Helena water testing shows elevated contaminant levels

Nolan Lister

Recent testing of Helena’s drinking water revealed a contaminant level that was above accepted levels from July to September, the city’s public works department announced.

A water transmission main break in May resulted in large amounts of organic material pouring into the system, causing a reaction with the treatment chemicals and driving up levels of haloacetic acids, or HAA5.

Helena’s Environmental Regulation Pretreatment Manager Leea Anderson said in an interview Friday that temporarily elevated levels of HAA5 do not pose a risk to residents.

Anderson said the maximum contaminant level for HAA5 is based on long-term exposure lasting 30 years or more.

“Some people who drink water containing haloacetic acids in excess of the MCL (maximum contaminant level) over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer,” a city news release on the topic states.

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This is the first time the city has violated the MCL for HAA5.

The city’s public works department has been performing hydrant flushing to remove natural organic matter that may be contributing to the issue and expects to return to compliance during upcoming monitoring periods.

The city monitors its water supply

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