Edwardsville addresses concerns over discolored tap water

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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The Edwardsville Public Works Department is assuaging the concerns of residents regarding discolored tap water.

For the past nine months, city engineers have observed elevated levels of iron in the water. In November, the city received an increase in complaints from residents about discolored or muddy-looking water.

According to the city, the discoloration is because of elevated iron levels. A spokesman said the city routinely tests water samples for copper and lead and confirmed the increase in iron.

The water in Edwardsville is safe to drink. Iron is naturally occurring and can be found in the city’s municipal water source – the American Bottoms Aquifer.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate the presence of iron as a component of water. However, the Illinois EPA does regulate iron, allowing for a maximum of 1.0 milligrams per liter. Historically, iron levels in the city’s water tested at 0.035 mg/L, but that has increased to an average of 0.088 mg/L, but has gone as high as 0.3 mg/L.

Water discoloration due to increased iron occurs at 0.3 mg/L.

According to the World Health Organization, the average fatal dose of iron for human beings is 200 to 250 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Now, how does that relate to the aforementioned data on iron in drinking water?

A liter weighs approximately one kilogram. Even when accounting for the most recent high of iron levels in Edwardsville water (0.3 mg/L), one would have to drink over 660 liters (or 1,469 pounds) of water to be at risk. You’d suffer from the effects of water intoxication before you reached the threshold for iron poisoning.

After noticing the increase in iron levels in the water, Edwardsville solicited bids to rehab the city’s media filtration system. The city has five 17,000-gallon pressure filters, which trap and remove unwanted particles and sediment from the drinking water before it reaches faucets. The filters have a shelf life of 10 to 15 years. Three of the five filters had reached the end of their lifespan, so the city opted to replace all of them.

Each tank is 10 feet in diameter and 28 feet long. Replacing the filters must be done by hand, one at a time. The city contracted with Kamadulski Excavating and Grading to do the job at a projected cost of $915,394. Work on replacing the filters began in November.

Residents should contact the public works department if they notice discolored water that does not clear up or dissipate after running the cold tap for several minutes. Email or call 618-692-7535.


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