Jesse Gordon for Randolph Town Council >
Events> Water Analysis
Randolph Water Analysis: Don't Drink Brown Water!
Click here for Political Notebook article in Oct. 18 Sun-Journal (scroll down past Egan article!).
The residents of Randolph are frustrated about the ongoing water problems and their concerns are legitimate -- we don't know when it's healthy to let our kids drink the water, and we don't know who to ask for help. I'd like to clarify some of the mixed messages, and ask the Town Council to do the same.
People are frustrated about whether it's healthy to drink the water even when it's brown -- it's not. And people have legitimate concerns about whether our water is tested for being too brown -- it's not. As taxpayers, we've paid nearly two million dollars for the new water system so far, and we still have to put up with bad water -- and we still have not gotten the truth about what's going on, and who is accountable for the problems.
I brought a water sample here, to illustrate the problem. This water is called "turbid" -- it's discolored and cloudy. Turbidity is unhealthy because the cloudiness comes from suspended particles, and those particles provide "hiding places" for bacteria, so that the chlorine disinfectant misses killing some. That's why there are health standards for turbidity!
This water sample (picture below) is well above the allowed health limit of maximum. By state standards, this water is not healthy to drink.
Our water officials have said that our water passes all state standards -- people are frustrated because that's only half-true -- Randolph's situation is not accounted for in the state testing. There are two major parts to our water system -- the water treatment plant near the reservoir, and then miles and miles of pipes, called "the distribution system." These documents here are my public records request of water quality testing at both the treatment plant and the distribution system. I provide details on my website, www.JesseGordon.com/Water, but let me summarize here:
Water turbidity is tested a lot at the treatment plant -- thousands of measurements per week. In the pipes, in contrast, turbidity is tested only once every few months. That's because most pipes don't have a problem with turbidity -- so it's only an occasional spot-check, like we do for heavy metals. But our turbidity gets added after the water leaves the treatment plant. The turbidity comes from disturbances in the sediment in the pipes, loosened by changes in the main pump. The ongoing fix is to "flush" the pipes, but that will take many, many months because there are many, many miles. So what do the residents do in the meantime?
The bottom line is this: if your water looks unhealthy, like this sample, or smells unhealthy, or tastes unhealthy, it's just common sense that it's unhealthy, and you shouldn't drink it. God gave us all excellent water testing equipment in our eyes, nose, and tongue -- they are designed to help us avoid ingesting unhealthy things -- so trust your senses and your common sense! Most of the time, my water looks, smells, and tastes ok -- and it's ok to drink it -- but when your water is discolored or cloudy or smelly -- don't drink brown water!
Our water testing simply doesn't account for the situation we're in. There are solutions that would account for our situation -- but my three minutes are up -- so I'll discuss those further at the Candidate Forum on Tuesday at 6:30 PM at the Comfort Inn. Thank you.
This is turbid water. It looks yellow or tan, and a little cloudy, and when more turbid, it looks brown. Compare to the chart below, by eye, to see that it's well over 10 NTU.
Same water after settling for a few hours; you can see brown particles on the bottom; that is the source of the turbidity, when it's "shaken up" as it comes out of the tap. Click pictures for larger image.
This is a turbid water chart. The figures are in "NTU", which is "Turbidity Units." The state health limit is 1.0 NTU average, and 5 NTU max. The water in the Randolph sample above is well over 10 NTU, and hence well above the state health limit. Another example of turbid water appears below. Click on either one for larger image.