U of I warns campus about water system contamination - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

U of I warns campus about water system contamination

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The University of Iowa Facilities Management sent out an email Tuesday afternoon warning that the university's water system had levels of total trihalomethanes, that were above drinking water standards.

They say these high levels of TTHM is not an emergency, that the water is still drinkable.

"You do not need to use an alternative (e.g., bottled) water supply. Disease prevention specialists with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics say special precautions are not necessary. However, if you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor," it said.

If it was an immediate risk, they say people would have been notified immediately. 

However, they also said that some people who drink water contaminated in excess over many years may experience liver, kidneys, or central nervous system problems and may have an increased risk of cancer.

The release said they routinely monitor drinking water contaminants, and had received testing results on February 1 which showed the system exceeded the standard contaminant level for total trihalomethanes. The standard for that is 0.080 mg/L, the average level over the last year in the university's system was 0.081 to 0.110 mg/L.

"Trihalomethanes are a byproduct of the water treatment process that form when chlorine, added to the water during the treatment process for disinfection, reacts with naturally occurring organic matter in the water. Above normal winter temperatures have increased the amount of naturally occurring organic material in the Iowa River, resulting in the need for additional chlorination. The additional chlorine used to make the water safe to drink leads to higher TTHM levels," it said.

For now they will be flushing fire hydrants to lower the time of water in the distribution system which will reduce the amount of time available for TTHM's to form.

Back in October of 2015, the university proceeded with a project plan to reverse osmosis filtration system to address high nitrate levels in the Iowa River saying that this system will also reduce the organic matter that causes the formation of TTHM's. This system is still in the design phase for installation but is expected to go into effect in the next 18 months.

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