Carolina Water Service will run extra tests on its water and make the results public after recent complaints of lead and mysterious contaminants in its water.
Tests are scheduled for March 13 at the master meter within the distribution system. The county sells water to the utility, serves more than 9,700 customers in York County.
“CWS, along with York County, will be collecting samples for total residual chlorine, pH, nitrate and fluoride (Tuesday) morning with the intent of demonstrating that the quality of the water we distribute to our customers does not change after we receive it from York County,” said Robert Yanity, spokesman for Carolina Water.
The utility also will test specifically for lead.
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“We should have results back in the coming weeks,” Yanity said. “We will make them public.”
A week prior to the tests, the South Carolina Public Service Commission held a public hearing in Lake Wylie as part of Carolina Water’s ongoing rate increase case. The utility asked last year for increases of about 15 to 30 percent statewide for water and sewer. A final hearing in Columbia comes early next month.
Several people in Lake Wylie complained about their water leaving residue or discoloration. Some said they don’t drink the water in their homes. One resident, Lee Kehler in Lake Wylie, submitted evidence of a test the utility performed back in 2015 where the lead content exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency action standard.
A water supplier must take steps to control corrosion if 10 percent or more of its customers’ taps test higher than that standard.
Kehler said he wasn’t given further information on what to do about the test.
“Never heard back from them,” he said.
York County Councilwoman Allison Love, weeks prior and again during the Lake Wylie hearing, called for Carolina Water to run new tests on its water prior to the rate case decision. She spoke with Carolina Water President Catherine Heigel after the meeting and made the same request.
Within days Love had her answer.
“They said they would give me results as soon as they have them,” Love said. “So I assume it will be public at that time.”
In January, Carolina Water announced Heigel as its new president beginning Feb. 1. She is a former director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. She also was president of Duke Energy South Carolina at the end of more than a decade of work as a regulatory lawyer and executive with the company.
Water is routinely tested for contaminants, including lead. Results in 2015 found some homes in Lake Wylie and Foxwood, in the Fort Mill area, exceeded the federal standard. Yanity said Carolina Water “immediately initiated retesting” in the homes where those samples were taken. Those tests and others to follow found no issue with lead, he said.
“All of CWS’s systems in York County have been in full compliance for the past two years,” Yanity said. “Our most recent round of monitoring took place between June and September 2017, and of the 20 homes sampled, all were below the action level.”
The black rings and residue some homeowners complained about at the Lake Wylie hearing are typically mold or mildew, Yanity said. It can cause black, pink or orange discoloration on shower heads, sinks, bathtubs or other area where water routinely comes in contact with a surface.
“The appearance of mold is associated with several factors having to do with moisture, but is generally not a problem with water quality,” Yanity said.