Following floods, questions swirl around water quality in the East

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Following devastating floods in the East, there are now a lot of questions about the quality of water.

WNCT went to Kinston to do a sample of both tap water and river water from the Neuse. We took those samples to Greenville Pool & Supply Company to get some tests done.

These tests were just a measuring point to give rough estimates, as they normally are run using pool or spa water.

When looking at the Neuse River sample, the copper reading was around .4 parts per million, while the Iron reading was around 4.9 parts per million. To compare, both of those values should be at 0 in a sanitary swimming pool.

The phosphates level was also extremely high at 169. Crystal Manning said that shows just how polluted the water is.

“As far as the phosphates, they are way high, which means there’s debris and different kind of unsanitary things in the water,” she said.

WNCT then went to Kinston City Hall, where we collected a sample of tap water from a water fountain. When running the tests on this sample, we used a smaller and larger estimate for the total volume of water present.

The lower volume of water sample showed copper and iron readings of 0.1, and the Phosphates reading at 761. When re-running the test using a higher volume of water, all those values came back at 0.

Another area hard hit by floods was in Greenville. Greenville Utilities said they stopped pumping water from the Tar River for a few days after being notified of sewage spills further upstream during the storm.

They also had to use four times the normal amount of some of their chemicals to treat the water because of river contaminants.

“We use ozone as our primary disinfectant, it’s 100 times stronger than chlorine,” said Julius Patrick, GUC’s water treatment plant superintendent.

When deciding how much of a chemical to use, GUC uses a variety of tests.

In labs, they have six beakers of water filled with different levels of chemicals. What they’re looking for is to see which chemical level produces just the right size of bacteria clumping together in order to filter it out.

They also utilize high-tech machines that constantly monitor the water.

“We run daily bacteriological tests, chloroform test and test for E. coli,” Patrick said. “So we test that daily. Also we test for turbidity, which measures the clarity of the water.”

In the days and weeks following the storm, GUC continued doing tests at their treatment facility and hundreds of testing sites in the county.

For those relying on well water, the floods also produced some water quality concerns. Pitt County is now offering free bacteriological testing of well water, once the well has been flushed and disinfected by a certified contractor.

So far, less than 12 people have contacted the county for those tests.

The North Carolina Groundwater Association is also offering a $100 rebate towards the cost of well disinfection. For more information, click here or call 919-876-0687.

To contact the county for a free test, call 252-902-3206.

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