Correction made in Carroll Co. water report

Flawed document showed contaminants in supply

July 02, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

County officials are reassuring South Carroll residents that the Freedom water supply is free of contaminants, after a clerical error in the annual water quality report noted unacceptable levels of mercury and other chemicals.

Carroll's annual Consumer Confidence Report, which provides data on the health of the public water supply, went to 7,800 homes throughout the county last month with critical errors. The errors occurred only in the brochures mailed to the Freedom Area, which includes all of South Carroll.

Because of a misplaced decimal point in the report on the Freedom District system - the largest of Carroll's four public water systems, serving nearly 20,000 people - it looked as though detectable levels of known carcinogens were present in the public drinking water, when no such danger existed.

The flawed document should have read .0005 parts per billion of mercury and two other contaminants. Instead, the report reads .5 parts per billion. The maximum contaminant level allowed by the federal government's Environmental Protection Agency is .002 parts per billion.

The report repeated the same error when listing levels of picloram and simazine - synthetic organic contaminants from herbicide runoff. Levels detected should have read .0005 parts per billion for all three elements, as the highest amount detected during samplings taken several times throughout the year.

Data on radon, an inert gas, were "inadvertently included in the report," county officials said in a news release issued Friday on the errors.

"We are telling citizens not to be alarmed," said Ann Baugher, an administrative associate in Carroll's Public Works Department. The county has posted the revised report on its Web site, www.ccgov.carr.org/utility.

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