Manganese levels in water double in an hour during pump switch


MOHAWK VALLEY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Manganese levels in the Mohawk Valley Water supply doubled from Tuesday to Wednesday, but officials with the water authority say there's a reason for the spike.

Mohawk Valley Water Authority Executive Director Patrick Becher says that, over the weekend, the authority began treating the water with sodium permanganate which was put into the water supply using a borrowed pump.

On Wednesday, the water authority received the pump they'd ordered. For the hour and a half or so it took to swap out the pumps, treatment of the water was interrupted and there was no sodium permanganate going into the water supply.

Officials with the water authority believe that lapse in treatment caused the manganese levels to spike.

Officials expect the levels to come back down by Thursday. They say that, on Friday, they will close an intake gate at Hinckley Reservoir and they expect that to bring down manganese levels as well.

While manganese is a natural element found in water, food, soil and air, many area residents have expressed concern when learning that studies such as those by the National Institute of Environmental Health Services showed that long-term exposure to high levels of manganese can result in damage to areas of the brain that control body movements.

These findings have resulted in federal standards that limit the amount of manganese in drinking water.

The accepted level for manganese in a potable water supply is .05 parts per million. Becher says excessive rain helped drive that number to 0.11, twice the accepted standard. Treatment put in place over the weekend brought the level down to .03 on Tuesday, and officials believe the lapse in treatment spiked that level to .06 on Wednesday.

The brown water has been an ongoing issue for many throughout the area, including but not limited to Utica, New Hartford, Marcy, and Whitesboro.

However, the Water Authority states that anybody experiencing discolored water should refrain from doing laundry. It is also recommended that homeowners should avoid using hot water to the extent that is possible to avoid bringing darkened water into their hot water tanks.

The Water Authority says that residents should expect the discolored water to clear up within hours after system flushing, but may need to run their cold water faucets for several minutes to clear out their service line that brings water in from the main.

If the water does not run clear within a few minutes, the Water Authority says it is then best to wait and try it again an hour or two later.

If you are experiencing darkened water, let the MVWA know. They are using that information to plan flushes.

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