Company didn’t test for nitrate in Queenstown
QUEENSTOWN — The company, which operates the Queenstown water treatment plant, failed last year to collect and test for nitrate in the town’s drinking water.
Nitrate is a pollutant, which in high doses, can cause health problems and even death in babies, according to the U.S Environment Protection Agency. (EPA).
Since the test was never taken in 2016, there’s no evidence whether the nitrates were in high amounts or low enough to meet governmental regulations.
As required by the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Queenstown government posted on their website and in their newsletter about the matter.
The notice says the town is required to monitor drinking water for specific contaminants on a regular basis. Results of regular monitoring are an indicator of whether or not the drinking water meets health statements.
“During January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016, we did not complete test for nitrate and therefore cannot be sure of the quality of our drinking water during that time,” the notice sad.
Town Clerk Amy Moore wrote on the notice, saying “Due to an oversight on the operators’ (Miller Environmental) part, the test for nitrate was overlooked and not collected in 2016.”
In a telephone interview, Doug Connell, operations manager for Miller Environmental based in Reading, Pa., confirmed the notice is accurate. The company was supposed to collect a sample in the first quarter of 2016, but didn’t. “It was an oversight. It wasn’t collected,” he said.
Only one test for year is required.
A sample was collected this past February, and, according to Connell, the nitrate was less than one parts per million, which is in compliance with the Safe Water Drinking Water Act.
When asked if the Queenstown water is safe, he said, “Absolutely, because every test result we had come back in compliance with the Safe Water Drinking Act.”
The testings, he said, goes back years, and the results always were within federal guidelines.
The EPA on its websites describes the “National Primar y Drinking Water Regulations” and lists health effects from exposure from certain chemicals in drinking water.
Nitrate is listed and its common sources of contamination are from runoff from fertilizer use, discharge from refineries and factories, and runoff from landfills and croplands.
The health effects can be severe, particularly with babies. Infants below the age of six who drink water containing high doses of nitrate could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die, said the EPA.
Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome, said the agency.
The notice, posted on March 7, from the town about the untested nitrate asks residents to pass along the information in the notice. “Please share this information with all other people who drink this water, especially those will do not receive this notice directly (for example: people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public area, distributing copies by hand, etc.”