What does this recent violation of water treatment requirements mean for us? (UPDATE)

Many Kalamazoo residents received a notice from the city of Kalamazoo this weekend in the mail regarding a water quality violation,

Our water system recently violated a drinking water treatment technique for corrosion control.  Although this situation does not require that you take immediate action, as our customers you have a right to know what happened, what you should do, and what we are doing to correct this situation.

It goes on to say, that as a Kalamazoo (or Parchment) resident there is nothing we should do.  We do not need to boil our water or stop using it all together.  In fact, this is where this notice gets strange.

The notice says the city of Kalamazoo is allowed 9 excursion days in a six-month period.  Kalamazoo exceeded that by one day.  This happened between January 1st - June 30th of 2019.  So, our water maybe fine right now.  However, why is the city notifying us in late December?

This isn't the first time in recent history that this has happened according to documents at Kalamazoocity.org,

Monitoring periodLocationNumber of

allowed

excursion days
Excursion days
January 1 – June 30, 2018Point of entry (where we add

phosphate)
926 days
July 1 – December 31, 2018Point of entry (where we add

phosphate)
913 days
July 1 – December 31, 2018Parchment Distribution

System
920 days

On the bright side.  This isn't a huge health risk like the ongoing lead problem in the Flint water system or PFAS in the Parchment water system in 2018.  This time phosphate was found to be outside of state-designated ranges.  Phosphate has not only been used in the Kalamazoo water system since the 1950's to reduce corrosion in pipes, but it was also used when Kalamazoo took over the Parchment water system during their PFAS problem.

 

We recently spoke with James J. Baker, PE, Director of Public Services about this notice and learned what this letter is all about.  It apparently was not at all a warning that phosphate was at a dangerous level for consumers.  It's the other way around.  The phosphate level needed to be high for the protection of the pipes.  Mr. Baker explains in a way that make way more sense than I could.  Listen to the whole interview below: