The City of El Dorado was unable to comply with a federal drinking water regulation during 2019, however there was no risk posed to consumers — according to the city.

A notice was mailed to citizens of El Dorado in February informing them of the failed compliance.

“Even though this is not an immediate risk, as our customers you have the right to know what happened and what we did to correct it,” a statement from David Dillner, city manager of El Dorado, said. “This is not an immediate risk and your water is safe to drink.”

The regulation is concerned with the total organic carbon (TOC) in the drinking water, which is simply the total organic matter found in the water. While TOC poses no health risk to consumers according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it can eventually lead to other chemicals when exposed to the chlorine during the cleaning process that can cause health complications, such as problems of the liver or kidney and could potentially increase risk of cancer.

According to Kurt Bookout, director of public utilities of El Dorado, the chemicals that do pose health risks to consumers, trihalomethanes (THM’s) and haloacetic acids (HAA5’s), that come from TOC and chlorine were well below the specified maximum containment level (MCL) for safe drinking water, meaning the city did not exceed the specified amount of THM’s or HAA5’s. The MCL for THM’s is 80 parts per billion (ppb), and the MCL for HAA5’s is 60 ppb, meaning for every billion units of the makeup of the water, there would be 80 or 60 parts of that billion that would be THM’s or HAA5’s respectfully.

The regulation that El Dorado failed to meet was a separate required measurement of THM’s and HAA5’s that is used to determine whether the TOC in the water is within the specified regulation. The limit for THM’s for this regulation is 40 ppb, and is 30 ppb for HAA5’s. These measurements are done in four randomly selected locations around the city, which are distributed evenly. During 2019, a couple locations exceeded the required average amounts of HAA5’s. THM’s never exceeded the limit, with the average of the whole year being 21.97 ppb, nearly half the regulation. However, HAA5’s had a yearly average of 29.97 ppb, with the highest average amount in one location reaching up to 33 ppb, breaking past the 30 ppb regulation but still well below the MCL of 60 ppb.

“The message to our customers is ‘we never exceeded the MCL for [THM’s or HAA5’s], which is actually the regulated contaminate,’” Bookout said. “And matter of fact, we’re extremely low. If you look at the MCL [for HAA5’s] of 60 [ppb] and our annual average was 29.97 [ppb], and we had a couple of locations that were 33 and 32 [ppb], that’s really good, so we barely bumped over the 30 [ppb], which made us not be able to comply with the alternative criteria, but 30 was a long way from 60.”

Average TOC is always expected to be higher during the rainy season, and 2019 was no exception. However, the abnormally high increase in TOC in 2019 came from the record rainfall Kansas had in 2019 and the following flooding the excess rain caused according to Bookout, with May being the wettest month ever recorded in Kansas according to the Kansas State University Weather Data Library, and that the TOC levels are already declining naturally.

Back in 2016, El Dorado was selected as the city with the best tasting water in Kansas from the American Water Works Association, a recognition they also received in 1986.

For any additional concerns or information, it is recommended citizens call the City of El Dorado at (316) 321-9100 or Bookout at (316) 322-4411.