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United Water of Pine Bluff water quality better than Federal standards and getting better

By Bobbie Crockett/OF THE COMMERCIAL STAFF

Water supplied by United Water Arkansas met government safety standards for 2003, according to the utility's Consumer Confidence Report 2003.

"Our goal is to meet all safe water standards and we've done that," said Lester Melton, United Water's general manager. "In fact, we've exceeded in almost all categories."

The utility regularly tests water samples around the community to make sure it complies with safety standards.

Tests monitor levels of various items including coliform bacteria, nitrogen from fertilizer runoff and elsewhere, and copper and lead from corroded household pipes.

Nitrogen, copper and lead can also result from the erosion of natural resources and coliform bacteria is naturally found in the environment.

Based on results of monitoring during 2003, the level of coliform bacteria detected was 3.33 percent - below the maximum allowable level of 5 percent. Fluoride was also below the contaminant level as were the trace amounts of nitrogen, lead and copper, according to the report.

United Water does sampling at each of its three water treatment plants daily, said Paul Carlson, the utility's production manager.

"Through our tests we can ensure that the water is safe to drink," he said.

United Water is also required to sample once every three years for lead and copper at customers' taps. More than 30 customers received letters this month asking them to participate in the sampling.

"It's basically for the protection of everybody, so we can see there's no lead or copper leeching into the water at harmful levels," Carlson said.

The samples are sent to the Arkansas Department of Health for analysis. All test results are kept on file by the department, which monitors and regulates drinking water quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the ADH require water suppliers to provide a Consumer Confidence Report to customers annually.

United Water officials say the utility has completed several projects to improve water quality including new aeration towers, replacement of water filter media and new monitoring equipment.