STELLARTON – Ron Marks believes he knows why the levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) have been high for more than a year in Stellarton.
The former mayor, who now serves on the water committee, said the levels of the THMs, which are a carcinogenic byproduct of the water purification process, started exceeding the limits around the same time as the Town of Stellarton stopped using aluminum sulfate, a coagulant used to remove discolouration and turbidity from the water. Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness in water caused by suspended particles.
By stopping this process, more particles were making it into the chlorination process causing the levels of THMs to rise, he said.
“The part that I find troubling is we did not know, council did not know, the mayor did not know, that the aluminum sulfates had been stopped,” Marks said.
He was told the reason it was stopped was because they were not able to produce an acceptable quantity of water when they were using the aluminum sulfates.
Bob Funke, former town engineer for New Glasgow and a member of the water committee as well, explained that the aluminum sulfates cause buildup to form on the membrane system meaning more time is needed to clean them out which means that less water is being produced.
Dalhousie University is currently conducting a study on the town’s water as well as at other municipalities throughout the province to learn how to deal with this situation. The study is expected to take about two years, although council has said they expect to get some answers sooner than that.
Marks, said he doesn’t think the town should continue to operate as they are for that period of time.
Funke said he believes the town is taking the right steps, though, and he said the level of THMs, although high, is not something to be worried about for now.
“Their water is certainly safe to drink. It does have elevated THMs, but the study done by Dalhousie University will lead to the proper solution,” he said.
He said it’s too early to say for sure that Marks’s theory on why the THMs are high is completely accurate.
“Everybody realizes why THMs are formed,” he said. “The issue is simply how best to remove the colour in the water to lower the THMs, while at the same time making sure there’s adequate water supply for the citizens of Stellarton.”
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