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Durham, North Carolina Water Quality Report

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Sources Of Drinking Water in Durham, North Carolina

Where does Durham get its water from? The Regional Municipality of Durham's Works Department treats and distributes safe drinking water across our region.  Durham has 12 drinking water systems that operate across our eight area municipalities. These drinking water systems include surface water (such as Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe) and ground water sources (such as wells).  Is Durham's water safe to drink?

Surface water treatment takes water from open water sources such as rivers or lakes. This treatment process involves both chemical and physical treatment. It removes any biological, organic or inorganic matter from the water. The two surface water sources in Durham are Lake Simcoe (with a water supply plant located in Beaverton) and Lake Ontario (which has water supply plants in Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Bowmanville and Newcastle).

  1. Intake: Lake water flows through an intake pipe into the plant by gravity. Some chlorine is added to keep zebra mussels off the intake.
  2. Screening: Screens remove large items from the water such as fish and logs.
  3. Chemical Treatment: Coagulation and Flocculation: During coagulation, a liquid chemical is rapidly mixed into the water from to help particles clump together. The next step is flocculation, where slow mixing helps to form even larger clumps so that they are easy to remove from the water.
  4. Filtration: Filters are large basins full of anthracite or granular activated carbon (GAC) and sand. During filtration, the water flows through the filter by gravity, leaving all unwanted particles behind.
  5. Disinfection and Fluoridation: Chlorine is added to eliminate pathogens and to maintain a residual in the distribution system. Disinfection is achieved by the addition of chlorine at multiple locations throughout the treatment plant. Fluoride is added to improve oral health in Courtice, Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax and Pickering
  6. Pumping and Distribution: Once the drinking water is pumped out of the plant, it travels through an underground network of pipes to fill water storage towers and underground reservoirs before arriving at your tap. 

 Source: City of Durham

Contaminants Found in the Durham, North Carolina's Water Supply

(Detected above health guidelines)

Bromodichloromethane

Bromodichloromethane, one of the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Bromodichloromethane and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy.

Chloroform

Chloroform, one of the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Chloroform and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy.

Dibromochloromethane

Dibromochloromethane, one of the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Dibromochloromethane and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy.

Dichloroacetic acid

Dichloroacetic acid, one of the group of five haloacetic acids regulated by federal standards, is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Haloacetic acids and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy.

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

Trihalomethanes are cancer-causing contaminants that form during water treatment with chlorine and other disinfectants. The total trihalomethanes group includes four chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane and bromoform.

Trichloroacetic acid

Trichloroacetic acid, one of the group of five haloacetic acids regulated by federal standards, is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Haloacetic acids and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy.

Fluoride

Fluoride occurs naturally in surface and groundwater and is also added to drinking water by many water systems. The fluoride that is added to water is not the naturally occurring kind, the main chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are known as “silicofluorides” (i.e., hydrofluorosilicic acid and sodium fluorosilicate). Silicofluorides are not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride products; they are unprocessed industrial by-products of the phosphate fertilizer industry (Gross!). Since these silicofluorides undergo no purification procedures, they can contain elevated levels of arsenic — more so than any other water treatment chemical. In addition, recent research suggests that the addition of silicofluorides to water is a risk factor for elevated lead exposure, particularly among residents who live in homes with old pipes.

Potential Health Effects of Consuming These Contaminants

Health risks of bromodichloromethane in excess of health guideline 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.4 ppb for bromodichloromethane was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. Values greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level can result in increased cancer cases above one in a million people.

Health risks of chloroform in excess of health guideline 

Cancer: The health guideline of 1 ppb for chloroform was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. Values greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level can result in increased cancer cases above one in a million people.

Health risks of dibromochloromethane in excess of health guideline 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.7 ppb for dibromochloromethane was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. Values greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level can result in increased cancer cases above one in a million people.

Health risks of dichloroacetic acid in excess of health guideline 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.7 ppb for dichloroacetic acid was defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. Values greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level can result in increased cancer cases above one in a million people.

Health risks of trihalomethanes in excess of health guideline 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.8 ppb for trihalomethanes was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a draft public health goal, the level of drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Health risks of trichloroacetic acid in excess of health guideline 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.5 ppb for trichloroacetic acid was defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. Values greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level can result in increased cancer cases above one in a million people.

Health risks of fluoride in excess of health guideline 

No standards exist for fluoride in water.

Contaminant Levels in Durham, North Carolina Tap Water Compared to Other Regions

Bromodichloromethane

 - Health Guideline: 0.4 ppb

 - State: 5.83 ppb

 - National: 4.37 ppb

 - Durham, NC: 7.03 ppb

Chloroform

 - Health Guideline: 1.0 ppb

 - State: 18.3 ppb

 - National: 11.4 ppb

 - Durham, NC: 33.6 ppb

Dibromochloromethane

 - Health Guideline: 0.7 ppb

 - State: 3.26 ppb

 - National: 2.99 ppb

 - Durham, NC: 0.671 ppb

Dichloroacetic acid

 - Health Guideline: 0.7 ppb

 - State: 8.05 ppb

 - National: 6.00 ppb

 - Durham, NC: 13.6 ppb

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

 - Health Guideline: 0.8 ppb

 - State: 28.4 ppb

 - National: 23.4 ppb

 - Durham, NC: 41.5 ppb

Trichloroacetic acid

 - Health Guideline: 0.5 ppb

 - State: 7.03 ppb

 - National: 4.93 ppb

 - Durham, NC: 11.6 ppb

Fluoride

- Legal Limit: 4 ppb

 - State: 0.305 ppb

 - National: 0.440 ppb

 - Durham, NC: 0.550 ppb

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April Jones

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