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Metro Newsroom

Louisville Drinking Water is Safe

Thursday January 16, 2014

Louisville Water expects the plume of the MCHM chemical that spilled into the Elk River last Thursday to pass through Louisville Friday morning.  This incident does not pose a health concern and will not impact the quality of Louisville’s drinking water.  The plume will pass quickly through Louisville – in about 24 hours – at levels of between 5 and 20 parts per billion (ppb) in the Ohio River.  However, Louisville’s drinking water should contain no detectable traces of MCHM.

Louisville Water scientists have worked closely with the Ohio River Valley Water and Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) throughout the week to analyze samples.  The levels of MCHM have continued to drop as the plume traveled downriver - - from 375 ppb where the Kanawha River joins the Ohio River to 14 ppb near Cincinnati.  This morning, communication officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirm that our drinking water is safe – with levels of MCHM below 50 parts per billion considered not a public health risk.  Again, Louisville’s drinking water should contain no detectable levels of MCHM.

Louisville Water is well-equipped to handle this type of incident through two treatment processes:
  • First, using groundwater as a source with the Riverbank Filtration project at the B.E. Payne Plant.  This one-of-a-kind project in the world uses a tunnel and well system as a natural filter.  This treatment system is a “green approach” and naturally filters water moving into the ground.
  • Second, at the Crescent Hill Filtration Plant, Louisville Water will use carbon to remove the contaminant.  This type of treatment can be routinely used to handle taste and odor issues.
Louisville Water customers will not see any changes in the quality of their drinking water nor should they notice any changes in the taste of their drinking water.  The treatment strategy in this instance is similar to how Louisville Water deals with other taste and odor issues.