UPDATED: The story has been adjusted as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to include information from a phone interview with David Condrey, the manager of Milford Water Company.
Complaints and requests for individual home testing are flowing into Milford Water Company, as residents learn that a round of recent testing has revealed, once again, elevated levels of a contaminant.
The Water Company posted test results from the Aug. 25 samples on its website. In all six spots, the results indicate the levels of the contaminant Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) are above the maximum allowed for drinking water, and higher than the most recent quarterly average.
The next round of town-wide testing is scheduled for Thursday.
TTHMs are produced when drinking water is disinfected. They form when disinfectants, such as chlorine, combine with leaves, bird waste, and other organic materials that are found in surface waters.
According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees drinking water supplies, the amount of contaminant allowed for drinking water is 80 parts per billion (ppb).
In Milford, levels in samples taken at six locations ranged from a low of 87 ppb, on Main Street, to 122.5 ppb, at a site on Countryside Drive, according to the report on the Water Company's site. Samples taken on Purchase Street, Beaver Street and South Main Street were all above 100 ppb.
The last quarterly report on testing, in July, showed a town-wide average of
David Condrey, the manager of the private utility company, acknowledged through a statement on the Water Company site that the contaminant levels will likely remain high through the third quarter, until steps can be taken to reduce the natural materials entering the water supply.
On Wednesday, Condrey said the private utility will test water quality at individual homes, but the focus is "on fixing the problem for everyone in town."
The long-term solution to ridding the water supply of elevated TTHMs is the new water treatment plant, which is not scheduled to be finished until 2013.
In email correspondence sent to about the elevated levels, Condrey has said the Water Company board voted last week to allow people who may have specific health issues to purchase faucet- and shower-mounted filters, and submit the receipts to the company for reimbursement.
About a dozen families have already done so, he said Wednesday.
By the end of October, the company hopes to have the first unit of a installed at its Dilla Street site. This is a filter that includes a layer of carbon, which has worked well in a community in Maine, according to DEP officials, who suggested it to local Water Company authorities as an interim solution.
Last week, the DEP approved the Water Company's plans to install two of the "carbon sandwich" filters. The first should be activated by the end of October, said Edmund Coletta, a spokesman for the DEP.
"That should significantly bring those down," Coletta said, referring to the TTHM readings.
It is common for the contaminant levels to rise in August, he said, because the water temperature is warmer, and more natural materials are in the surface waters.
On its site, the Water Company has posted a Q and A, with assistance from the state, that explains the nature of the contamination, and offers some temporary steps that can be taken by customers to reduce their exposure to TTHMs.
Among the suggestions: ventilate the bathroom when bathing or showering; operate room exhaust fans or ventilate room (open window) when boiling water, washing with hot water or running the dishwasher and reduce the length of showers and baths.