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Rigorous Standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act Met In the City of Anderson
IDEM Recommendation Will Ensure Continued Water Safety
ANDERSON – The City of Anderson and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) announced today that regular testing confirms drinking water produced at all of the utility’s treatment plants is safe and in compliance with the rigorous standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The utility made the announcement after IDEM announced that it had requested the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add an area identified along the Broadway St. corridor north of downtown Anderson to the National Priorities List (NPL) of the U.S. EPA Superfund sites, due to groundwater impacts from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with chlorinated solvents. The exact boundaries of the area have not been identified, but it is expected to include one of the City of Anderson’s wellfields located East of Broadway and North of the White River.
According to Neal McKee, Director of the City’s water department, “Since 2013, IDEM, in Partnership with the EPA, has been moving through the process of adding the City of Anderson to the NPL based on detections of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in the City’s raw water from the Wheeler Well Field. The city has been aware of VOC’s in the raw water since the late 1980’s, and identified them in a 1992 Vulnerability Assessment of the Water Utility submitted to IDEM. The city installed Air Stripper technology at the Wheeler Water Treatment Plant in 2000 to remove VOC’s from the raw water. The city’s drinking water is tested for VOC’s on a quarterly basis and there has not been a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) violation for VOC’s in the finished treated water for the City of Anderson. The Air Strippers have been efficiently removing VOC’s from the raw water for 17 years. Lab equipment can detect levels of contaminants at very low levels.”
“In the City of Anderson, the safety of the drinking water we provide for our citizens is always our highest priority. The water produced at all of our treatment plants, including the Wheeler Avenue Treatment Plant, is safe and meets all applicable Safe Drinking Water Act Standards,” said Mayor Thomas Broderick, Jr. “Our commitment to quality safe water for our citizens and our customers is further evidenced by our active ongoing efforts to upgrade our facilities and our efforts to add future supply sources to replace the aging Wheeler Well Field. Our administration has been proactive in addressing an issue that has been known in Anderson since the late 80’s and early 90’s. While Anderson, like many cities in the Midwest, has had VOC detects in raw water, it is not uncommon due to years of heavy industrial activity. It is nonetheless important that we continually take steps to ensure the continuation of keeping our water safe and clean.”
In November 2017, the City of Anderson began construction of a 10 Million Gallon per Day (MGD) water treatment facility to replace the existing aging Lafayette Treatment plant. The construction process will take approximately 18 months. As part of this project, we will be making some connection upgrades to the Wheeler Avenue Plant to allow for 2.5 MGD of the new plant to be ran through the Wheeler Plant. This will allow the city to begin the process of shutting down and abandoning the wells that have the VOC detects, according to city officials.
In February of 2017, the city began a hydrogeological study to identify a future source of supply to replace the Wheeler Well Field. The hydrologist has reviewed the geology surrounding the city and has identified 2 areas of interest for test drilling. He has provided a list of property owners to the city and we are in the process of contacting them to gain access for test drilling. Once the test drilling is complete and we get verification of the capacity needed, the city can move forward with a plan for a future treatment plant to replace the Wheeler Ave. Treatment Facility.
Bruno Pigott, Commissioner of IDEM stated that local residents can have confidence in the safety of local drinking water. “Water produced by the City of Anderson’s Water Department meets all state and federal safety standards and the environmental work provided through the Superfund Program will help ensure continued water safety and quality.”
The City of Anderson has eight groundwater production wells in the Wheeler Wellfield that are used to supply the Wheeler Avenue Treatment Plant. The City also has nine groundwater wells located in Lafayette Township that supply’s the Lafayette Treatment Plant.
“Treated finished drinking water produced throughout the City’s system is regularly sampled and tested per rigorous U.S. EPA and IDEM requirements to ensue water safety and quality,” explained Director McKee. “The City also has an active Wellhead Protection Plan that works to identify and monitor potential sources of groundwater contamination that could impact its groundwater supplies.”
The listing of an area on the NPL will allow access of federal funds by the state to continue to monitor and investigate the sites for determination of the origin of the VOC’s while also looking for possible funding for any potential needed clean up of the area.
According to Mayor Broderick, “While it will ultimately be up to the EPA to accept the recommendation of IDEM, the city, regardless of the decision, will continue to be proactive in taking all necessary steps to ensure safe and plentiful drinking water for our city.”
McKee echoed mayor Broderick’s sentiments stating, “the City of Anderson’s Water Department will continue its rigorous testing program as we work closely with officials at the U.S. EPA, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and other parties as EPA considers this request.