However, at least one industry group does not feel the water is completely safe
By Gina Glantz
Although Kutztown’s water is already filtered up to the law’s standard, the Environmental Working Group does not believe it is entirely without risks.
The EWG has identified 14 contaminants in Kutztown’s water, nine of which, in their view, exceed a “healthy” amount. Those nine include bromodichloromethane; chloroform; dibromoacetic acid; dibromochloromethane; dichloroacetic acid; haloacetic acids (HAA5 and HAA9); nitrate; and total trihalomethanes.
The borough of Kutztown, which filters and disinfects its water, analyzes the water quarterly for any contaminants. From their perspective, all nine of the identified chemicals are under the legal limits.
Kutztown’s water supply is filtered at the Kutztown Borough Water Filtration Plant. The water is frequently analyzed for contaminants, and at the end of the year, a summary is published.
The EPA determines the amount of contaminants allowed to be in drinking water for it to be considered safe. To make the water legally safe, filtration plants filter and disinfect itto kill bacteria. In addition to filtering, the Kutztown water plant adds chlorine to the water to disinfect it.
This is standard practice, chlorine and chloramine are often used to disinfect municipal water systems.
Troy Smith, Kutztown’s water filtration plant manager, said, “We’re putting in approximately 1.2 [parts per million], so it’s a very low amount of chlorine in our water.”
According to the official Kutztown water quality report, 1.32 parts per million of chlorine was measured in Kutztown’s water in 2021. A yearly summary for 2022 hasn’t been published yet.
According to the CDC, the maximum legal amount of chlorine allowed is 4 parts per million. This means Kutztown’s water legally contains an acceptable amount of chlorine.
Kutztown’s water has been considered legally safe for many years. The borough received an award for drinking water cleanliness for the 10th consecutive year.
In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection gave the plant a “commendable” rating.
This compliment is only given to 15% of water plants in the state of Pennsylvania.
Despite the fact that these contaminants are under the legal limits, one organization, The Environmental Working Group, believes the contaminants still pose health threats.
They claim eight of the contaminants are created by chlorine disinfectants, and all nine increase the risk of cancer. They believe that the legal limits on such contaminants are too high and outdated. The EWG says a new legal limit to tap water hasn’t been made since 2000.
According to their health guidelines, the lowest containment was dibromoacetic acid at 2.1 times their recommended amount.
The highest contaminants were bromodichloromethane at 70 times and total trihalomethanes at 80 times their recommended amount.
Smith said that Kutztown’s water filtration plant follows the legal requirements. When asked if he thinks the legal limits should be updated, he said he would follow all updated rules.