City’s Drinking Water Exceeds Federal Standards

Posted in: Drinking Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination, Water quality
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Johnson City’s drinking water easily meets strict federal health guidelines, according to a 2014 water quality report. Photo Credits: Johnson City Press

Article courtesy of Gary B. Gray | June 30, 2015 | Johnson City Press | Shared as educational material

Johnson City’s drinking water easily meets strict federal health guidelines, according to a 2014 water quality report.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation have signed off on the city’s water quality after a review of samples taken throughout the last calendar year.

“People should feel 100 percent confident in the safety of their water,” Johnson City Water and Wastewater Superintendent Jeff Corder said Tuesday. “We had no violations at all, which means in 2014 Johnson City surpassed all the regulations. I think citizens can take comfort in knowing the city provides clean drinking water 24/7.”

The EPA requires all water suppliers to provide reports like this every year to to state agencies regulating environmental mandates, such as TDEC. The report is then made available to each customer.

“We collect the samples and analyze a portion of them,” Corder said. “The rest of the samples are sent to a private laboratory. The samples are sent each month to TDEC, and they communicate the findings to the EPA.”

Johnson City’s Water and Sewer Services maintains two drinking water treatment plants, three wastewater treatment plants. 99 water storage reservoirs, booster stations and pressure regulating zones, 99 wastewater lift stations, 942 miles of water lines and 579 miles of wastewater collection lines.

It is normal for drinking water, including bottled water, to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. This does not necessarily indicate a health risk.

Generally, sources of drinking water — both tap and bottled — include rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, natural springs and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or underground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals, and in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animal and human activity.

The department routinely conducts inspections for cross connections between a customer’s service and the public water supply. A cross connection is a direct arrangement of plumbing that allows the potable water (drinking water) supply to be connected to a line that contains a contaminant, or nonpotable water.

Some examples of cross connections include direct connections of your plumbing with lawn irrigation systems, fire protection systems, pools saunas, hot tubs, fountains and auxiliary intakes, such as wells, cisterns and ponds.

Corder said chlorine is used at Johnson City’s water plants to kill microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria that may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations and wildlife.

Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, can be naturally occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff. The same is true for industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining or farming. pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources.

Organic chemical contaminants include synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are byproducts of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff, and septic stations.

In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the EPA prescribes regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. Food and Drug Administration regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water, which must

Water and Sewer Services operates infrastructure inside the city limits and in portions of four neighboring counties. Each year, the department treats 5 billion gallons of potable water and processes more than 4 billion gallons of wastewater.

The Watauga Water Plant was built in 1968. It was expanded and renovated in 1980 and again in 2000. The Unicoi Water Plant went into operation in 1996.

For more information about your drinking water and for opportunities to get more involved, call Chief Water Plant Operator Matt Holtsclaw at 975-2646 or 975-2648; or write to: Johnson City Water & Sewer Services, P.O. Box 2466, Johnson City, TN 37605.

The report is available at

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What’s in your water?

The following information shows the type of contaminant, the source of contamination, and whether samples taken in 2014 violated federal standards:

Microbial contaminants Level/EPA limit Violation Potential source

Total coliform bacteria 0.30% (5%) No Present in environment

Turbidity (clarity) 06 (.19 ntu) No Soil runoff

Total organic carbon .08 (0.5-1.00 ppm) No Present in environment

Inorganic contaminants Level/EPA limit Violation Potential source

Copper 0.24 (1-3 ppm) No Plumbing/environment

Fluoride 0.7 (4 ppm) No Environmental/ toothpaste

Lead 1.2 (15 ppb) No Corrosion/environment

44›Disinfection Level/EPA limit Violation Potential source

Haloacetic acids 25.03 (60 ppb) No Byproduct

Trihalomethanes 31.53 (80 ppb) No Byproduct

Chlorine 1.87 (4 ppm) No Anti-microbial additive

Unregulated substances Level/EPA limit Violation Potential source

Sodium 4.4 (n/a ppm) No Naturally occurring

ntu: Nephelometric Turbidity Units (clarity)

ppm: Parts per million

ppb: Parts per billion
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