UTICA - Within the next few days, Mohawk Valley Water Authority customers will receive postcards in the mail, describing an equipment malfunction in their treatment plant.
On December 15th, a polymer pump experienced an electrical failure, stopping the flow of a polymer chemical into water drawn from Hinckley Reservoir. The polymers bind together bacteria and other contaminants in the water, making them easier to filter out.
Without the polymers, the turbidity, or cloudiness, of the water rose higher than one Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU), a level deemed unsafe by New York State's Department of Health.
"Microbes have an affinity for the particles of water, so an increase in turbidity could mean an increase in microbes," Phil Tangorra, Director of Water Quality said. "When the polymer failed, when the pump failed, the turbidity rose within the treatment above that one unit standard."
Tangorra said the problem was detected before any water was passed along to the distribution plant or customers. Tangorra also said the water was tested, and the addition of chlorine in the final stages of treatment killed the bacteria that wasn't filtered out.
At this time, there is no boil water advisory, and MVWA officials have installed more alarms on the pump to prevent electrical failures in the future.
Tangorra said officials were given 30 days to alert customers of the problem. He added that customers would have been alerted within 24 hours of the failure if an immediate health threat was present.
For more information, you can read the MVWA's statement here.