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Williamstown violates water standard due to computer error

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

The City of Williamstown violated a drinking water standard that impacted about 8,000 customers, but the problem occurred at the end of 2011, but it was not a health hazard.

According to Brian Gatewood, Williamstown’s water superintendent, the city did violate the state’s water quality standard in the third and fourth quarter of last year due to a faulty spread sheet.

“The city was out of compliance, but we were operating under the assumption we were in compliance,” Gatewood said. “Had we known we were out of compliance we would have addressed it right away.”
Gatewood said the error wasn’t found until the city’s reports were sent to Frankfort for the annual Consumer Confidence Report.
By the time the spread sheet was corrected and the city notified of the violation, it was nearly six months later.

“If they had discovered it after the second month, there could have been additional testing and the state could have given the city a variance for the limit,” Gatewood said.

“I can’t place blame on anyone and there’s no way to go back,” he said.

The testing shows the city did not meet the treatment technique for Total Organic Carbon (TOC). Each month the percent of TOC removed is compared to the percent of TOC required to be removed, which determines a ratio of how much should be removed. The monthly ratios are used to calculate an annual average. The annual average of monthly removal ratios of TOC is required to be 1.00 or greater. The TOC removal ratio for the city was calculated to be .91 to .94.

“This is six months after the fact and is not an issue now,” Gatewood said. “The public needs to understand that TOC is not a health risk.”
Williamstown is exploring funding options to build a new water treatment plant or else they will be forced to make costly upgrades to their present plant or face fines if they are not in compliance with new state and federal laws.