Water quality assured

Mike Tony | Herald-Standard

Engineer Bill Johnson assured Masontown customers that their water quality is fine despite state Department of Environmental Protection-prompted letters suggesting that a test result from Masontown Water Works recently violated a drinking water standard.

MASONTOWN – Borough officials assured residents their water quality is fine despite state Department of Environmental Protection-prompted letters suggesting that Masontown Water Works recently violated a drinking water standard.

Borough Engineer Bill Johnson said Tuesday another round of letters will be going out soon as a result of a July reading that found an unusually high amount of haloacetic acids in borough drinking water.

“Historically (in) this town, for the five to six years I can speak of, your results are 0.02 and 0.014, really low, hardly even measurable, the way we do this test,” Johnson said. “(On) July 22, 2019, you had a result come in that was 0.19 milligrams per liter. That’s extremely high.”

Borough officials said that Fairway Laboratories found out that a lab error affected that test result, which Johnson indicated skewed the borough’s quarterly average.

“I have to carry that value for three quarters till I can factor it out of the math,” Johnson said. “That’ll be the second quarter of 2020 when that actually happens. Tell your neighbors. You’re going to get another letter. But your water quality was never affected.”

Johnson said that DEP did not agree with the lab assessment and would not allow the lab to change the test result, which Johnson added was 0.02 – right where he expected it to be based on past results.

“It was never an issue with water quality here,” Johnson said.

A letter sent to Masontown Water Works customers earlier this month indicated testing results on Nov. 6 showing a haloacetic acid total of 0.061 milligrams per liter, just above the standard level of 0.06 milligrams per liter.

DEP could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Council President Bruce Cochrane said he has reached out to state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, on the issue.

“I’m hoping the legislator can talk to Harrisburg and make some sense out of this so we don’t have to issue letters that are incorrect on their face,” Johnson said.

Cochrane said that borough Solicitor Gary Monaghan would pursue compensation for the borough’s costs of roughly $1,000 every time it’s had to send out letters on the subject.

“(W)e’re going to expect the lab to pay that and also send a letter on our behalf (saying) they made a mistake to the residents,” Cochrane said.

In other business, council noted but did not award a low bidder in response to the borough’s request for solid waste collection and disposal proposals.

A bid opening Friday revealed Jim Collins Services LLC to be the low bidder at a rate of $15.26 per user per month guaranteed for two years. Republic Services was the other bidder who met the bid filing deadline, according to borough Secretary Robin Core.

Last month, council voted unanimously to increase the garbage portion of their monthly bills by $2 through March to cover a $1.77 increase per customer up from $11.81 being charged by Advanced Disposal after the borough did not receive any bids for municipal waste collection and disposal in December.

The borough’s five-year agreement with Advanced Disposal expired at the end of December, but council unanimously approved a contract extension with the company through March 31 until the borough can secure a longer-term contract.

In other water-related business, Cochrane said that CQB Solutions, which council unanimously approved to conduct a detection survey last month, has found roughly eight leaks so far comprising some 80,000 gallons of water lost per day.

Cochrane said the borough is losing about 40 million gallons a year currently.

“So if the leaks pan out the way (CQB Solutions) says, we’re going to find 29 million of them,” Cochrane said.

Cochrane previously said water losses of around 30% result in a yearly loss of roughly $117,000 for the borough. Johnson had come up with a yearly loss amount of about $140,000.

The borough is amid a $10 million corrective action plan per the DEP to address infiltration issues.

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