The Fort Smith Water Utilities is a public water system subject to regulations under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Those regulations require the notification of customers whenever a violation occurs, and is the basis for this notice.
The contact time (CT) criteria (flow rate, chlorine level, and pH) necessary to meet a 3 log (99.9%) removal/inactivation of Giardia cysts and a 4 log (99.99%) removal/inactivation of enteric viruses was not met during the period of August 14, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. through August 15, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.
Water supplied by this system is from a surface water source. Water from these sources must be treated at prescribed levels prior to entering the distribution system to ensure that certain harmful microorganisms, if present are not viable. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets national drinking water standards and has determined that the presence of microbiological contaminates are a health concern at certain levels of exposure.
If water is inadequately treated, microbiological contaminants in the water may cause disease. These organisms included bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.
These symptoms, however, are not just associated with disease-causing organisms in drinking water, but also may be caused by a number of factors other than your drinking water. EPA has set enforceable requirements for treating drinking water to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Treatment such as proper filtering and disinfecting of the water removes or destroys microbiological contaminants. Drinking water which is treated to meet EPA requirements is associated with little to none of the risk and should be considered safe. Failure to meet this requirement does not necessarily mean that the water is unsafe or that alternate sources of water should be used.
In August 2017, the Lee Creek Water Treatment Plant treated drinking water reached or exceeded a pH of 9 for on two consecutive days. This was due to a 2 inch rain fall in less than 8 hour period which caused the pH to exceed 9 at 10:00 pm on August 14, and was brought back below pH 9 early the morning of August 15. The USEPA and Arkansas Department of Health has set the upper limit pH of 9, and any time the pH exceeds this limit, a CT criteria treatment technique violation is issued. Bacteriological testing of the finished water at the Lee Creek Water Treatment Plant taken during the entire month of August 2017 before the water was sent to the distribution system showed no presence of total coliform or E. coli.
The Fort Smith Water Utilities has returned to compliance and as a corrective and preventative measure, has adjusted the pH warning set point to a lower pH level. This will allow treatment plant operators additional time to respond to future pH spikes and prevent the pH from reaching the pH 9 limit.
Should you have any questions concerning this notice, contact the water system at 479-784-2337 or 479-784-2331, or the Engineering Section of the Department of Health at 501-661-2623.