Southwestern Water notifies customers about testing issue

The Southwestern Bartholomew Water Corp. is notifying customers the utility recently violated a federal drinking water standard due to a problem with testing.

In an advisory to customers, the utility says there is no need for customers to find alternative sources of drinking water. Southwestern Bartholomew has purchased its water from Columbus City Utilities since the rural utility was formed in 1965 and resold it to their customers, a Southwestern official said. Columbus City Utilities is also required to do testing on all its water to meet federal standards, which means the water sold to Southwestern was being testing by Columbus City Utilities.

While the advisory is not considered an emergency, the utility headquartered at 4735 W. Carlos Folger Drive states their customers have a right to know what has happened.

The problem is that testing conducted for both trihalomethanes (TTHM) and haloacetic acids (HAA5) was either not performed or failed to comply with all governmental requirements, according to a legal advertisement from the utility. Southwestern is required to monitor drinking water for specific contaminants to ensure their water meets health standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency.

TTHM and HAA5 are both groups of disinfection byproducts that form when chlorine compounds used to disinfect water react with other naturally occurring chemicals in the water.

At elevated levels of consumption over a long period of time, TTHM has been associated with negative health effects such as cancer and adverse reproductive outcomes.

When people consume HAA5 at high levels over many years, they increase their chance of developing bladder cancer. Other health effects associated with HAA5 include rectal and colon cancer, as well as adverse developmental and reproductive effects during pregnancy.

Southwestern Bartholomew Water officials said there’s no evidence their water poses any form of a health risk – especially since Columbus City Utilities has been performing the required tests on water supplied to Southwestern.

The advisory was issued because samplings were not conducted by Southwestern within the government’s established time frame. While Southwestern officials call the matter an “oversight,” non-compliance with the testing schedule means the drinking water’s quality cannot be guaranteed at this moment.

However, it would take drinking high levels of TTHM and HAA5 over many years for a health risk to materialize, according to the National Institutes for Health.

Sampling and testing to ensure the water quality will resume, and be completed within the required time frame, the utility stated.

Those who receive their water from Southwestern Bartholomew are urged to share this advisory with all others who get their water from the same source.