Video: Water experts decipher those scary-looking mailings to Greater Morristown

Laura Cummings, right, executive director of the SMCMUA, explains water samples, while Water Quality Specialist Drew Saskowitz and Morristown Councilwoman Alison Deeb listen, Dec. 18, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Laura Cummings, right, executive director of the SMCMUA, explains water samples, while Water Quality Specialist Drew Saskowitz and Morristown Councilwoman Alison Deeb listen, Dec. 18, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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If you live in Greater Morristown, you probably have received a pair of notices from the water company noting elevated levels of TTHMs.

What do they mean?

As we reported earlier: Don’t be alarmed.

Experts from the Southeast Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority deciphered the warnings for the Morristown Council on Tuesday.

Here is the video:

Video: Water company experts explain trihalomethane warnings:

Laura Cummings, the utility’s executive director and chief engineer, and her water quality specialist, Drew Saskowitz, gave an overview and fielded questions.

To recap:

  • TTHM is short for Total Trihalomethanes.
  • Under certain fairly rare conditions, they are a byproduct of chlorination that kills pathogens in our drinking water.
  • Trihalomethanes are suspected carcinogens–if consumed in enormous amounts over a lifetime.
  • In this case, the TTHM level slightly exceeded federal guidelines in one little-used pipe that only serves the Convent Station post office
  • The water came from another utility’s reservoir and it was stagnant in the pipe, in warm conditions, which can cause trihalomethanes to form.
  • The water source has been changed, the pipe is being flushed regularly, and temperatures are colder now; Cummings does not expect any more problems.
  • Two quarterly tests were the first to reveal elevated levels of TTHM since this testing started in 2012.
  • Despite circumstances that appear to indicate virtually no health threat, environmental regulations required the SMCMUA to send alerts to its approximately 17,500 customers in Morristown, Morris Township, Morris Plains and parts of seven other towns.
  • Because the numbers are averaged from the last four consecutive tests, it’s possible that another mailing may go out after the next test in late January 2019, even if that level is below the federal threshold.
  • The SMCMUA is not advising installation of home water filtration as a response to this situation.

Anyone with questions is invited to call the utility at 973-326-6880, or email here, or visit its office at 19 Saddle Road, Cedar Knolls.

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