FAQ for Solebury Customer Public Notice – August 2022

Updated: August 10, 2022

You are only affected if you are a BCWSA Water Customer in the Solebury Water System.

This is NOT an emergency situation, and you may continue to drink the water.

BCWSA works diligently to deliver the highest quality drinking water to its customers. We invest in replacing and upgrading aging infrastructure and continuously make improvements to ensure that we meet upcoming water regulations. Sometimes circumstances beyond our control may affect the quality of the drinking water. One such situation occurred in the Solebury Water System.

Why was a public notice issued?

Laboratory results received in June indicated a level of gross alpha above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) in an entry point sample collected in the Solebury System.  When this occurs, a confirmation sample is collected and analyzed to validate the result.  The confirmation sample results were received on July 29th and showed that the level of gross alpha was not above the MCL.  However, the two sample results must be averaged and that value reported for compliance purposes.  When the two results were averaged together, that result was just above the MCL.  Because of this, a Tier 2 Public Notice must be issued to all customers in that system within 30 days.

Public notice was issued on August 4th and included with bills for all customers in the Solebury Water System.

This is not an immediate risk, and you may continue to drink the water.  If it had been, customers would have been notified immediately.  Any customers that have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly may be at increased risk and should seek advice from their health care provider about drinking the water.

Why is there a drinking water violation?

Gross alpha is required to be tested every six (6) years at this particular entry point in the Solebury System.  The MCL for gross alpha is 15 pCi/L.  The average of the samples collected in June and July was 15.55 pCi/L.

It is important to note that when analyzing gross alpha, you may subtract the results for uranium if the sample for uranium is collected at the same time as the gross alpha sample.  At this particular entry point, uranium is required to be tested every six (6) years as well, but it is during a different sampling period, so it was not analyzed at the time of the gross alpha sample.  If it had been, the result would have been subtracted from the gross alpha results to obtain a true result for gross alpha.  We believe the results for gross alpha would have been under the MCL if uranium had been analyzed at the same time and subtracted from the gross alpha result.

What is the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for gross alpha and what was the level in my water that exceeded this number?

The MCL for gross alpha is 15 pCi/L.  The result received in June was 17.7 ± 3.56 pCi/L and the confirmation sample result received in July was 13.4 ± 2.11 pCi/L.  These numbers averaged together gave a result of 15.55 pCi/L.

What is gross alpha?

Gross alpha is a radiological compound know as alpha emitters.  Gross alpha radiation is released when radioactive elements decay or break down.

What are the health effects of gross alpha?

Drinking water with gross alpha radiation does not have any immediate health risks or symptoms.  Gross alpha radiation does not pass through skin so it will not be absorbed during showers or hand washing.  The risks come from ingestion or inhalation.

What should I do?

There is nothing you need to do. You do not need to use an alternative or bottled water supply. You do not need to boil your water. However, if you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.

What is BCWSA doing about this?

We have increased the frequency of monitoring for gross alpha.  Samples have been scheduled to be collected and analyzed for gross alpha and uranium in the third and fourth quarters of 2022.  In 2023, we will continue to monitor for gross alpha and uranium on a quarterly basis.  We will be monitoring these results closely and will begin evaluating the water supply and researching options for gross alpha removal or for a different water source.

What should I do if I have more questions?

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) has information on the Radionuclides Rule on their website here.

You can also find information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) webpage here.

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