Water Authority addresses residents' concerns about levels of manganese found in water

By JOLEEN FERRIS

MOHAWK VALLEY, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Mohawk Valley Water Authority is working around the clock to eliminate high levels of manganese in the system's water supply.

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.

However, the Mohawk Valley Water Authority and a separate, third-party water testing company say that the current levels of manganese in the water is not a need for concern.

The acceptable level of manganese in potable water is .05 parts per million. Last week, and up until Monday, the manganese level in the water was more than double that standard, at 0.11 parts per million.

Still, officials with the authority say it's an aesthetic standard...and that the water is safe for drinking and bathing.

The Water Authority over the weekend started adding sodium permanganate to the water in order to eliminate the excessive manganese. The Authority said It appears to be working - the level has decreased from 0.11 parts per million to .03, which is below the acceptable standard.

However, Water Authority officials said it looks like the treatment might not be temporary.

"The chemical treatment up at the reservoir itself is something that we may need to do on a regular basis during this time of year," said Mohawk Valley Water Authority Executive Director Patrick Becher. "It's the weather conditions we think have really exacerbated this problem and we may see these conditions in the future so we're prepared to do this type of treatment moving forward."

Becher says he doesn't expect the costly last-minute treatment and resulting equipment this weekend to add to the water bills of the 130,000 people on the authority's system.

He doesn't expect customers to feel the cost of long-term treatment, either.

Annette Popino, owner of A & P Water Testing in Morrisville, echoes the authority's opinions, stating that the manganese is a secondary contaminant, speaking to the look and odor of the water, and the chemical's ability to stain clothing and even porcelain.

Popino also said that, even at a level of 0.11, the presence of manganese in the MVWA's drinking water poses no health hazard.

Becher doesn't know how long it will be before everyone on the system has clear water once again, but is hoping the problem can be resolved within days.

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.

Many residents want to know if they will be compensated for having to purchase bottled water and not being able to shower with hot water or do laundry. Water authority officials said that decision will be made by the board of directors.

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