Com­pany didn’t test for ni­trate in Queen­stown

Record Observer - - News - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY ck­ersey@ches­pub.com

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.”

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