Water Quality

Bedford Central Water System Has Levels of Total Haloacetic Acids (HAA5) Above Drinking Water Standards

The Bedford Regional Water Authority’s mission includes providing our customers with the best quality drinking water possible.  To that end, we work hard to make sure the water we provide is properly treated, tested, and that it meets or exceeds all state and federal standards.

Recently, one of the drinking water quality standards within a portion of the Authority’s water system was higher than it should be (Haloacetic Acids, or HAA5).  This is not an immediate health concern; please rest assured that if it had been unsafe to drink, we would have notified you immediately.

The Authority routinely collects samples that are in addition to the samples required by the Virginia Waterworks Regulations.  The routine samples prior to this event showed that the levels met regulations; however, the excessive rainfall that occurred between the last routine sample and the latest sampling event affected the water quality, which led to an increase above regulation levels.

We will continue to take appropriate steps by flushing water through the affected areas, closely monitoring how the water flows through our system, and routinely testing the water to ensure that water quality is improving.​

What is HAA5? Why is it in my water?

Haloacetic acids, or HAA5, are a byproduct of the drinking water disinfection process. They occur when naturally-occurring organic and inorganic materials in the water react with the disinfectant. The BRWA’s disinfectant is chlorine. Disinfection is essential to providing clean, healthy water for citizens to drink.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a limit of 0.060 mg/L for HAA5 in drinking water. This limit is referred to as the MCL, or Maximum Contaminant Level.

During the fourth quarter sampling time period of 2018, two areas tested minimally above the EPA limit:

  • DBP06 Forest's SML Connection - Forest Area at 0.063 mg/L
  • DBP05 Bedford Central - Town Area at 0.064 mg/L

During the first quarter sampling time period of 2019, one area of our system exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for HAA5. The MCL for HAA5 is a locational running annual average (LRAA) of 0.060 mg/L. The recent LRAA is shown below. 

  • DBP06 Forest's SML Connection - Forest Area at 0.062 mg/L​
During the second quarter sampling time period of 2019, two areas tested minimally above the EPA limit for HAA5:
  • ​DBP01 Bridgewater Bay - Lakes Area at 0.061 mg/L
  • DBP06 Forest's SML Connection - Forest Area at 0.062 mg/L

The most recent sample taken had an HAA5 concentration of 0.054 mg/L and 0.033 mg/L, which is below the limit of 0.060 mg/L.  

This is a result of changes we implemented to reduce the levels of HAA5.

We will continue to monitor your drinking water for HAA5 and take additional actions as necessary to reduce the concentration of HAA5. 

Is HAA5 harmful to me?

The EPA’s website states that “Some people who drink water containing haloacetic acids in excess of the MCL over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer.”

This is NOT the case with the Authority water.. The water you are receiving from the Authority has not been in exceedance over many years. ​

How often do we sample?

The Authority samples for HAA5 once per quarter as required by law and at additional, shorter intervals as deemed necessary. When there is a violation, samples are taken more frequently to make sure the water quality is returned back to the EPA standard.

Throughout the daily treatment process, many steps are taken to clean and treat the water to keep it in the standards the EPA sets.

These steps include:

  • Pretreating the raw water
  • Putting the water through an extensive filtration system
  • Passing the water through a granular active carbon contactor specifically to remove materials that may lead to the formation of  disinfection byproducts like HAA5 and other possible contaminants
  • Treating water with chlorine prior to it leaving the plant and entering the distribution system. Although this is a contributing factor to the formation of HAA5’s, chlorine is needed to prevent a much greater, immediate health risk to the public.

Does the BRWA treat water differently than neighboring public water providers?

The BRWA has two water treatment facilities that have different systems for treating the water; one uses a conventional filtration process and the other uses a membrane filtration process. However, both use chlorine at the end of the process to disinfect the water prior to it entering the distribution system. Campbell County, Lynchburg, and Western Virginia Water Authority (all of the neighboring public water providers in our area) also use chlorine to disinfect drinking water. Organic levels and water quality of all surface water sources vary and are influenced differently by rain and runoff depending on the size and makeup of the watershed.

Is the HAA5 only in the water samples at the Lynchburg Salem Turnpike and Bedford, not at other locations? Have you found it at other locations?

A level of HAA5 is found in all treated water in our system, along with our neighbors’ systems and many bottled waters. The EPA has deemed that below 0.060mg/L is safe to have in your water; therefore, most water treatment facilities, including ours, have a small amount of HAA5 in it. The two locations mentioned are the only two that were out of compliance.

You can find out more information of exactly what is in the water you drink and the quantities present in our annual report and consumer confidence repor​t​

Why did I receive this notice and others did not?

Not all of the Authority customers received this notice because only certain areas of the service area received water that may have been affected. The water with the higher results came from 9741 East Lynchburg Salem Turnpike Road in Goode and 2177 McGhee Street in Bedford.

If you have not received a notice, your area was not affected.​ 

What does this mean?

There is not an immediate health risk. If there had been, you would have been notified immediately. 
 

What should consumers do?

There is nothing you need to do at this time. You do not need to use an alternative water supply. However, if you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor or the Bedford County Health Department at (540) 586-7952.   

For more information, please contact the Bedford Regional Water Authority at (540) 586-7679 or email
brwa@brwa.com.

Bedford Regional Water Authority
1723 Falling Creek Road • Bedford • VA 24523
540.586.7679

Water Quality