After a notice from the state, Smithfield is taking steps to remove a potentially harmful chemical from a portion of its water system.
Trihalomethane, a known carcinogen, is a byproduct of using chlorine to disinfect water. It can occur for a number of reasons, including high water temperature and low demand, which leads to water sitting in pipes for too long.
The affected area in Smithfield is along U.S. 301 south of Kay Drive, along Wal-Pat Road and along Brogden Road east of Interstate 95. It’s the same area that was under a boil advisory during Hurricane Matthew, said Public Utilities Director Ted Credle.
“This is not a medical concern,” Credle told the town council at its Nov. 1 meeting. But he followed that by saying those who are elderly, pregnant or have immune deficiencies should see a doctor.
“There is no need to boil water,” he added.
The state limits trihalomethane, THM, to 80 particles per million. At one point, Smithfield reached 132 parts per million.
“If it had been an emergency, we would have contacted customers within 24 hours,” Credle said.
Exposure to trihalomethane over many years can cause liver, kidney and nervous-system damage. It can also cause cancer.
To lower the concentration of THM in its water supply, the town is installing flushing systems. And it is increasing its sampling to make sure THM is falling.
The town has already installed three flushing systems, one on July 11 and two more on Oct. 11, shortly after Hurricane Matthew. It plans to install three more at dead-end water lines, where water typically sits in pipes for a longer time, Credle said. The flushing systems circulate water to prevent buildup of THM.
The increased flushing will be a permanent change to ensure THM levels remain below the state limit, Credle said, adding that the town will notify water customers when the amount of THM drops below the state limit.
Also on Nov. 1, the council:
▪ Issued a conditional-use permit for a residence in a business district on the south side of West Market Street near Park Avenue.
▪ Promoted a police captain, lieutenant and sergeant.
▪ Accepted Transportation Alternative Program funding to bring sidewalk intersections into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
▪ Agreed to pay Superior Recreation $39,991.89 to install new playground equipment in Gertrude B. Johnson Park.
▪ Agreed to seek a grant to replace aging firefighter air packs and the air compressor to fill them with.
▪ Went behind closed doors to talk about acquiring property.
Abbie Bennett: 910-849-2827; @AbbieRBennett