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Late notice of water contaminant was standard

BY LAUREN P. DUNCANlduncan@paducahsun.com

The five months between a chemical level violation in Paducah's drinking water and the time customers were notified was the standard process, according to a Kentucky Division of Water representative, because the contaminant did not pose a serious threat. 

On Monday, letters were sent out to more than 26,000 Paducah Water metered customers which informed residents that the level of trihalomethanes, or TTHM, had exceeded the maximum allowed 0.080 milligrams per liter. A test found 0.081 milligrams per liter at one of Paducah's eight test sites.

Although Paducah Water found the high level of TTHM on Jan. 2, it did not receive a notice of violation from Kentucky Division of Water (KDOW) until May 22.

Julie Roney, drinking water program coordinator with the state agency, said Kentucky's notification procedure falls in line with the Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. She said the procedure depends on the contaminant and the severity of threat it poses to citizens.

Because TTHM can be found in most drinking water and the breach of the contamination level was not threatening, it did not call for an immediate notification. If the substance had been something such as E. coli, Paducah Water would have been required to notify customers immediately, Roney said.

She said the state water division monitors water systems' reports quarterly for chronic contaminants such as TTHM. Paducah Water reported the higher January level at the end of March, and she said KDOW ran compliance checks in April before sending out the violation notice in May.

She said Paducah Water could have independently sent out a notice of higher TTHM levels before receiving the official state violation.

Contact Lauren Duncan, Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8692 or follow @laurenpduncan on Twitter.

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