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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Village water safe to drink
High amounts of iron, sodium found

According to a report recently sent out by the Water Department, the drinking water in Rockville Centre is high in iron and sodium, but is safe to drink.

The report, released annually, details where the water in the village comes from and what contaminants are in the water. The most concentrated ones were iron, which was measured at twice the regulatory limit, and sodium, which is high for those who are on restricted-sodium diets.

“These aren’t contaminants,” said John Ingram, the operator of record for the Water Department. “These are naturally occurring chemicals. And as a result, depending on where you are across Long Island, you’re going to get various levels of these things.”

Ingram explained that iron and sodium are naturally occurring I the ground, and therefore are also in the water. He also pointed out that, while the iron content is high, it does not make the water unsafe.

“When it gets to a point where the water gets a real rust color to it, then they put iron removal plants in,” Ingram said. “They’re very expensive, but they put them in. But as long as you don’t have the aesthetic issue, then it’s not a problem.”

The report details that some wells in Rockville Centre have iron contents as high as 2,360 parts per billion (ppb). The regulatory limit for iron in water is 300 ppb.

Right now, the excess iron isn’t a problem for the village’s water. If it gets to the point, Ingram said, that the water starts to have a metallic taste or come out of the faucet with a rust-like color, then the village will have to invest in iron-removal plants, which can cost upward of $2 million.

Additionally, some wells had sodium concentrates of 35.4 parts per million (ppm). While there are no regulatory limits for sodium, the recommended amount for people on restricted-sodium diets is 20 ppm.

“The Department of Health, and the [Environmental Protection Agency] on the federal level, want these things in the report so people can see them,” said Ingram. “If you have an issue with sodium, then you may not want to drink a lot of this water. You may want to drink bottled water. And that’s why it’s there.”

Lead and copper are also concerns for drinking water all over the country. But Ingram said that those contaminants usually come from a home’s pipes and don’t contaminate the water supply. According to Ingram, the Water Department has a list of homes that are likely to develop problems with lead or copper and check them regularly.

Also present in the village’s water are barium, zinc, chloride, sulfate, magnesium, nickel, calcium and manganese, and radioactive Gross Alpha and Radium 228 — all of which are at low levels, safe and naturally occurring, Ingram said.

“We can’t control against what may show up in the water,” said Ingram. “All we can do is, once it does get there and is identified, then we can do a removal process before it gets into the system.”

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