HAA5 & Disinfection Byproduct Information
The Agawam Water Department (PWS ID#: 1005000) recently violated a drinking water standard. Although this incident is not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened and what we are doing to correct this situation.
We routinely monitor for the presence of drinking water contaminants. Testing results from samples taken on March 1, 2022 show that our system exceeded the standard or maximum contaminant level (MCL), for haloacetic acids (HAA5) at three locations: 36 Main Street, 1057 North Westfield Street, and 1200 Springfield Street and for total trihalomethanes (TTHM) at: 1615 Suffield St. The MCL for HAA5 is 60 micrograms per liter (µg/L) and for TTHM is 80 µg/L. The MCLs are determined by averaging all samples collected by our system for the last 12 months, this is also known as a locational running annual average (LRAA). The table below shows the LRAA for each location above the MCL either HAA5 or TTHM for the April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 monitoring period:
Agawam has also exceeded the HAA5 MCL in 2018, 2019 and 2021.
What should I do?
- There is nothing you need to do. You DO NOT need to boil your water or take other corrective actions. If a situation arises where the water is no longer safe to drink, you will be notified within 24 hours.
- However, if you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.
What does this mean?
HAA5 are five haloacetic acid compounds and TTHM are four volatile organic chemicals which form when disinfectants react with natural organic matter in the water.
Some people who drink water containing haloacetic acids in excess of the MCL over many years (i.e. decades or a lifetime) may have an increased risk of getting cancer. Some people who drink water containing trihalomethane in excess of the MCL over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. If you would like more information about Disinfection byproducts (DBPs), please visit the following links: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/haa5-in-drinking-water-information-for-consumers and https://www.mass.gov/service-details/tthm-in-drinking-water-information-for-consumers.
Why did this happen?
The watershed area has received above normal rainfall last summer, which has resulted in an increase in the dissolved natural organic matter (NOM) entering the reservoir. Because of this, our water supplier the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission (SWSC/Commission) staff increased the chlorine output due to increased chlorine demand. We are evaluating options to respond to reduce the formation of HAA5 and TTHM in our water and continue to work with MassDEP and SWSC on this response.
What is being done?
We are working with the SWSC, which treats the drinking water, to continue to advance our efforts on a long-term solution.
The SWSC has modified its existing treatment process and system operations to reduce the levels of HAA5 in the distribution system as much as possible while maintaining safe chlorine levels. A pilot study in 2019 and 2020 to determine the most effective treatment process to remove more dissolved NOM and reduce HAA5. SWSC recently finalized a Facilities Plan with conceptual layouts for treatment plant improvements necessary to reduce disinfection by-products.
Hazen and Sawyer has been selected by the SWSC to develop the final design for treatment plant improvements. After the design is approved by MassDEP, construction is anticipated to begin in FY24, or earlier if possible, at an estimated cost of $168 million. The project is being financed with support from the U.S. EPA Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program.
SWSC is accelerating this work as quickly as possible while committing significant resources to the process. The pilot study built upon an already ongoing comprehensive evaluation of water quality and the water treatment process that began four years prior. A panel of national experts convened by SWSC is guiding these activities. SWSC also regularly implements land management tools according to its Source Water Protection Plan to optimize raw water quality.
Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.
Additional information on why HAA5 is regulated is discussed by UMass Professor Dr. David Reckow on Connecting Point (Feb. 12, 2019): https://wgby.org/episode/89858 or view the video below:
Other Recent MCL Violation Notices:
- HAA5 FAQs (Courtesy of Springfield Water and Sewer Commission)
- HAA5 in Drinking Water: Information for Consumers (MassDEP) @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>
- TTHMs in Drinking Water: Information for Consumers (MassDEP) @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>