UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - After weeks of scratching their heads over the mysterious brown water coming out of many area residents' faucets, the Mohawk Valley Water Authority believes it may have ofund the culprit.
The MVWA says it has detected higher than usual levels of manganese, a naturally occurring element in raw water. It believes that due to heavy rainfall during the summer months, additional manganese was carried into the Hinckley Reservoir through ground runoff.
"We started looking at the Hinckley Reservoir raw water where it reaches our treatment plant, "says Connie Schreppel Ph. D with the MVWA, "and we noticed from the water levels down at the intakes there was an increased level of manganese and iron and this is different from what we've ever seen before . Talking both with the DEC and our other water quality experts that we call in to consult with, they feel that possibly because of the spring rains we've had this summer- plus the extremely high levels of the reservoir in July may have contributed to this factor."
MVWA officials say the problem has been further compounded by the opening of the lower gate on the water intake tower at the reservoir. It was opened in 2007 when the water level was lowered to an abnormally low elevation. More water is now being drawn from the bottom section of the reservoir, which they say is chemically different.
An oxidizing element is now being used to filter the water to get rid of the manganese. This has been done for the past 48 hours and they say it appears to be reducing the amount of manganese in the water. It may take another 4 to 5 days for the process to be complete.
The MVWA says there is no evidence of bacterial contamination and the water is safe to consume.
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. That decision will be made by the board of directors.
You can call the Mohawk Valley Water Authority at 315-792-0309 or go to their website www.mvwa.us for more details.
"It's important that customers know that every single call that we've received has been entered into our system as a work order. We are following up on all of those," says Patrick Becher, Executive Director of the MVWA. "We are plotting them all on a map and we're looking at the water movement. Where it's been, how long it's persisted, once the event is done and we're satisified that things are back to normal we're going to collect all that data sit down, plot it out and then we'll be able to share that info with our board of directors who ultimately will make that decision."