City: Water customers will receive notice of elevated fluoride levels in June bills

The City of Newport posted on its website on Tuesday that water customers in the City will receive notice of elevated fluoride levels when they receive their June bills.

From The City

“As part of our ongoing mandate to inform the public of the health of our drinking water supply, the Newport Water Division will be including a notice in its June 2019 Water Bills to all customers of the Newport Water System that elevated fluoride levels were observed at one of the City’s water treatment plants for a roughly 2 1/2 hour period earlier this month.

Water Division personnel were first alerted to the issue when an alarm went off at approximately 4 p.m. on May 4, 2019 at the Station 1 Water Treatment Plant, located at 100 Bliss Mine Rd. in Newport.

Operators at the plant quickly responded, however water with a Fluoride level of 2.16 milligrams per liter (mg/l) was confirmed to have entered the distribution system. According to EPA standards, the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) for Fluoride is 2.0 mg/l.

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The Fluoride levels at the Station 1 facility dropped below the 2.0 mg/l maximum by 6:30 p.m. Water produced at the Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant, located at 2154 West Main Rd., Portsmouth, did not violate this standard.

According to state and federal guidelines, public notice is required whenever a drinking water standard is exceeded, and customers can expect to receive a notice included in their June water bills notifying them of the violation.

Corrective actions were immediately implemented at Station 1 Water Treatment Plant and increased distribution system monitoring began at the onset of this event until the entire system returned to the EPA recommended fluoride standard od 0.7 mg/l.

Commonly used to help promote dental health, elevated fluoride levels may cause a cosmetic dental problem that can affect children under nine years of age. Because of that potential, the Newport Water Division is required to notify customers when a maximum level is detected. The fluoride level detected on May 4, 2019 did not exceed the EPA Primary Maximum Contaminant Level of 4.0 mg/l.

As a Public Water System, the Newport Water Division performs daily testing of the water at its treatment plants in accordance with EPA and Rhode Island Department of Health regulations.

The EPA has established National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations that set non-mandatory water quality standards for 15 contaminants. While these contaminants are not considered a risk to human health, maximum levels are established as guidelines to assist water systems in managing their drinking water for aesthetic considerations, such as taste, odor, and color.

The EPA has established public notification rules and tiers under which specific violations are assigned. The Fluoride violation is a Tier 3 violation of the drinking water regulations. Tier 3 violations are considered less urgent than Tier 1 and 2 violations because there is little risk to consumers. Tier 3 violations require a public notification delivered to customers within one year after a violation is discovered.

To assure compliance with Fluoride SCMLs in your drinking water, the Newport Water Division is reviewing the Standard Operating Procedures for the application of all chemicals used in the treatment process, including Fluoride, with all the plant operators. The staff of the Newport Water Division are committed to providing water that meets all EPA and State drinking water standards. We are also committed to improve our performance to prevent any future violations.

In accordance with the regulations of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the RI Department of Health has been consulted regarding the notification being mailed to Newport Water consumers. Attached is a copy of the public notification that is being issued to our water customers with the June bills.”

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