In Haw, 1,4-Dioxane gets closer to EPA threshold

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PITTSBORO — Town officials in Pittsboro are becoming more concerned as levels of 1,4-Dioxane continue to rise in samples taken from the Haw River, which serves as the town’s source of drinking water.

In a statement released late afternoon Thursday, Town Manager Chris Kennedy said the most recent water samples were beginning to show levels of 1,4-Dioxane exceeding the EPA’s recommended 35 parts per billion threshold. 

“Town staff remains concerned by the increase in concentration levels seen in the raw water samples and will continue to exert our energies towards manipulating our water operations in an effort to reduce the concentration levels in our water distribution lines,” Kennedy said. 

“Raw grab” samples drawn from the river on Tuesday and Wednesday show 1,4-Dioxane levels of 28.2 parts per billion and 38.1 parts per billion, respectively, while treated samples showed 16.8 parts per billion on Monday and 21.3 parts per billion on Tuesday. While those levels are below the EPA’s recommended threshold for 1,4-Dioxane, they’re much higher than the higher previously-drawn samples — 9.8 parts per billion (from a “raw grab” last Friday) and 4.08 parts per billion from a finished sample at the plant drawn the same day and significantly higher than samples drawn just days earlier, which contained levels closer to 1 part per billion.

EPA’s Drinking Water Health Advisory Level of 35 ug/L (parts per billion) based on a 1 in 10,000 cancer risk for lifetime exposure.

“The numbers are beginning to spike as one can see in the results received thus far through Tuesday of this week,” Kennedy said. “These results suggest slower flow of the Haw River than previously believed or expected. The concentration levels in the raw water grabs are hovering around the EPA’s advisory levels, but the concentration levels seen in our tanks remain well under the EPA advisory. The tank numbers are the most accurate indicator of what is being used and consumed by our customers.”

Kennedy maintains that because the 1,4-Dioxane concentration levels in Pittsboro’s water tanks remained well below the EPA’s Drinking Water Health Advisory, the water quality “in our tank infrastructure is indicative of the water quality distributed to each of our customers.”

Pittsboro town staff are encouraging residents to follow the EPA’s guidance when it comes to 1,4-Dioxane contamination, which can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2014-03/documents/ffrro_factsheet_contaminant_14-dioxane_january2014_final.pdf.

The town expects to receive additional results from test samples by mid-day Friday.

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com.


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