JXN Water and Jacobs Proactively Address Water Treatment Disinfection Byproduct Levels in the Groundwater System

 JACKSON, Miss. – JXN Water continues to make improvements in the groundwater system, just as improvements are being made in the larger surface water system. The JXN Water groundwater system serves nearly 10 percent of the JXN Water customers, in the southern and western portions of the service area.

A big focus has been fixing leaks in the system and in the case of the groundwater system, ensuring the system is fully isolated from the surface water system. However, due to these improvements, especially the reduction in water loss through repair of defects in the system, water from the well system has a longer residence time in the City’s and resident’s pipes. As a result, we recently saw an uptick in levels of disinfection by-products in two of the four distribution sites within the groundwater system.

While we fully expect to meet the annual regulatory thresholds, JXN Water is committed to maintaining high quality standards and operations for our system and being transparent as we refine the operation of the system. The water remains safe and JXN Water is reaching out to inform customers about the proactive steps we are taking to ensure this does not become an issue.

Jacobs, the operations and maintenance partner for JXN Water, conducts water quality testing to ensure compliance with all state and federal drinking water standards. Total Trihalomethanes are byproducts of the chlorine we use to disinfect our drinking water.  EPA requires a running, quarterly annual average of 80 parts per billion. Testing is performed quarterly and recently, through routine testing, calculations of the disinfection by-products levels of Total Trihalomethane in the first quarter are above the annual average maximum contaminant level of this water quality parameter. JXN Water and Jacobs are taking proactive steps so that we meet the annual average EPA requirement through our testing over the rest of the year.

Addressing the Issue:

Like the surface water system – which serves the vast majority of JXN Water customers, the Jackson water groundwater system had so many failures that with the improvements being made to the system – leaks repaired and water loss reduced – the time water remains in our storage tanks increases. This is a good thing from a water availability and pressure perspective. With that first step achieved, we now have to ensure that we don’t have elevated Total Trihalomethane levels on an annual average basis in the groundwater system.

Longer storage time in the groundwater system increases the contact time between chlorine and naturally occurring organic matter in the water and can lead to elevated disinfection by-products (DBP) levels.

Jacobs and JXN Water are taking the following proactive steps to address the issue:

  • System flushing: Flushing the groundwater distribution system to increase water flow and reduce DBP formation.
  • Continued monitoring: Closely monitoring DBP levels to adjust operations as needed.
  • Adjusting tank operation: Adjusting the time water is stored in the groundwater system to mitigate contact time between chlorine and naturally occurring organic matter in the water.

Drinking Water Remains Safe:

JXN Water customers served by our groundwater system do not need to use an alternative water supply, if you have specific health questions, you may want to consult with your doctor.  Again, we expect the groundwater system will meet the annual MCL for DBPs.

What are Disinfection By-products and Why are they Present?

Disinfection by-products (DBPs) are a byproduct of the chlorine disinfection process, a crucial step in ensuring safe drinking water that eliminates harmful bacteria. Chlorine reacts with naturally occurring organic matter in the water and can form disinfection by-products over time.

The longer the chlorine reacts with organic matter, the higher the potential for formation of disinfection by-products. Long-term exposure to Total Trihalomethane that exceed maximum contaminant levels on an annual average basis, could pose potential health effects.

Balancing Safety and By-products:

Water system operators balance the risks from microbial contamination and disinfection by-products. While disinfection by-products have potential health effects from long-term exposure, they pose significantly less risk than consuming water which has not been properly treated for microbial contamination.

JXN Water will continue to provide updates as they become available.  For more information on water quality testing, view our latest Water Quality Report on JXNwater.com.