As of Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Heading to a mailbox near you is the city of Sunnyside's 2012 water quality report, which is scheduled to be inserted in the next batch of water bills to city businesses and residents. The report measures a laundry list of compounds found in city water, ranging from iron to calcium and arsenic. The new report differs little from the 2011 water update. The lone exception is Well 11, the shallowest (423 feet deep) and newest (drilled in 2006) well in service. According to 2012 figures, Well 11 has 15.6 parts per million of sodium, up from 13.9 in 2011. Both levels, though, are well below the EPA federal threshold or maximum contaminant level of 20 parts per million. Well 9, situated at the eastern edge of Sunnyside's city limits, had the highest rate of sodium of all the city's wells at 19 parts per million, just under the federal threshold. The rate was unchanged from 2011. Well 11, located in the north central portion of Sunnyside, also saw the only increase in the hardness of water, with a rate of 140 milligrams per liter in 2012 compared to 137 the year before. Sunnyside's well 8 had the hardest water at 158 milligrams per liter. Likewise, well 11 also saw the only uptick in nitrate levels from 2011 to 2012, rising from 1.62 to 1.83 parts per million. The federal maximum contaminant level for nitrate is 10 parts per million. Shane Fisher is Sunnyside's public works superintendent, and he said some nitrate leeches naturally into groundwater. As for why well 11 trended up in so many areas, Fisher said, "I couldn't tell you why the numbers go up or down." He said additional research would be required for those answers, especially pertaining to nitrate levels. Well 11 had the highest rate of nitrates in the city's water, according to the 2012 report. But it was well 8, located in the northwestern part of town towards Outlook, with the biggest jump in nitrate levels, from 1.28 in 2011 to 1.7 last year, an increase by nearly a third. Nitrate levels in drinking water, especially in Outlook and rural areas of the Lower Valley, have come under scrutiny in recent years. That's following research estimating 1-in-5 private wells in the Lower Valley have water with high nitrate concentrations, which can cause blue baby syndrome in infants and illness for those with low resistance to infection. Fisher emphasized that Sunnyside's water is safe and well within federal standards. There was some good news for well 11, as it continues to have the only levels of magnesium so low they are not detectable. Sunnyside's other wells have magnesium levels ranging from 10 to 15 parts per million. Well 11 also saw its turbidity level decrease from .21 turbidity units in 2011 to none detected in 2012, the lowest in Sunnyside. In essence, turbidity measures the clarity of drinking water. A glass of water will appear clearer, more transparent, as turbidity levels decrease. All the compounds measured in 2012 remain under the federal maximum levels with the exception of manganese in wells six and seven. Those wells measured at .051 and .05 parts per million, respectively, at or just above the EPA maximum of .05 parts per million. Higher levels of manganese have historically been the case for some of Sunnyside's wells, particularly well 6. According to previous water reports the city published, the levels normally occur because of the time the water is in contact with minerals in the ground. Those same reports note the levels are not a health concern, but do affect water color and taste. Copies of Sunnyside's 2012 Water Quality Report are also available on-line at www.sunnyside.org, where you can find it under the public works drop-down menu. The website has every water report dating back to 2004.