CARMICHAELS (KDKA) — More than a dozen communities rely on the Monongahela River for their drinking water and they haven’t reported any problems.
The story is different in the small community of Carmichaels.
A buildup of algae in Carmichaels prompted letters from the water authority a few months ago advising residents to boil their water.
The advisory has been lifted, but some people remain concerned.
“It’s been horrible for us,” Marlene Butorac said. “My husband and I in particular because he’s on an artificial heart pump and he has low iron and a low immune system.”
The algae formed when the water authority reduced chlorine treatment to try to lower the levels of a carcinogen called TTHM, a byproduct of a mix of chlorine and bromide, a pollutant found in raw Mon River water.
According to the authority, the problem is most likely the result of Marcellus Shale drilling which is prevalent in the area.
More than 100 Carmichaels area residents packed a meeting looking for answers. The DEP says TTHMs only cause health problems after prolonged exposure.
“[If] a 200-pound man were to drink two liters of that water every day for a period of 70 years,” Kay Frederick with the DEP said.
Cancer survivor Terri Donaldson said she’s frustrated and extremely worried.
“I don’t want anyone in Carmichaels to be sick over this water,” she said. “And we deserve clean drinking water.”
Local residents urged the Carmichaels Municipal Water Authority to hook up with a different water supply system at least temporarily until their problems are solved.