City of Bethel receives violations for not monitoring drinking water

by Angela Denning-Barnes on August 9, 2013

The City of Bethel’s water plant in Housing Subdivision gets its water from two wells that are about 450 feet deep. That depth is about twice the height of the tower at the KYUK radio station. The City of Bethel received violations for not monitoring some of its water from there that was hauled in trucks to residences or piped into the subdivision. However, the city is disputing some of the violations.

The violations were announced in this year’s Annual Water Quality Report which is a federal requirement by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The report recently showed up in residents’ mail boxes.

Two violations were for not testing for two different contaminants at the Bethel Heights Plant in 2012: disinfection by-products and nitrate. Some people who drink water with disinfection by-products for many years may experience health problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and may have a greater risk of getting cancer. Nitrate can affect infants below the age of 6 months–even causing death–if they drink too much of it in the water.

The report shows that all contaminants that were tested at the plant in 2012 came in below risk level. In a written statement from Acting City Manager, Larry Elarton, the city has been testing for the contaminants this year.

“The City of Bethel is dedicated to providing safe and high quality drinking water to the citizens and visitors of Bethel,” it states.

The city also received two violations for not testing two water trucks in two months last year.

Housing is one of the few neighborhood in Bethel that is hooked up to piped water but most customers receive their water hauled by truck. The city is required to sample the water every month in every truck for the bacteria total coliform. The report shows that the city missed doing that twice in 2012, once for a truck in July and once for another truck in January. The city disputes these charges. The city maintains that one of the trucks received negative results in January and they are now forwarding that information to the Department of Conservation. The other truck, they say, was out of service for the month of July which is why it wasn’t tested.

The report shows that all other samples that were taken all year tested negative for coliform.

There is no information in the report about what the violations mean for the City of Bethel.

No one from Public Works returned calls to KYUK today.

A written statement from Larry Elarton, Acting City Manager, states, “We would like to assure the public that the items discussed regarding the Bethel Heights Treatment Plant have been addressed and we are are in compliance with all DEC regulations and testing requirements.”

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