DUNDALK — If you’ve ever wondered where your water comes from and how it is treated, principal agent Dr. Andrew Lazur from the University of Maryland Extension is your guy.
On Nov. 7, Lazur held an hour-long presentation at North Point Library, where he educated Dundalk residents on their water supply, regulations and quality.
North Point librarian Jason Aglietti wanted to provide information about the water supply in Dundalk. He brainstormed with his team, and eventually received sponsorship from the Maryland Humanities Group to test the water in Dundalk and provide the results to residents.
“I wanted to bring something that would be helpful, and we thought how about transparency on what’s going on with our water,” Aglietti said.
Where our water comes from
Lazur began the forum by explaining that the quality of drinking water can be impacted by the source of the water supply, as well as the plumbing.
The water cycle has a lot to do with drinking water, Lazur explained. Precipitation coming down, hitting the ground and taking particles with it into a water base can contaminate the water supply — just like we learn in school.
“That’s an important message,” Lazur said. “Anything that we do is how we can contaminate our water. Anything we do can affect our drinking water quality.”
Manufacturing plants, pesticides, manure, traffic and icing salts are potentially impacting the quality of water.
Next, Lazur said that the public water supply is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“The EPA gives the acceptable level of the pollutant in drinking water,” Lazur said.
There are 3,653 public water supply systems in Maryland, broken down by different categories. Dundalk is serviced by the Montebello Water Treatment Plant. Baltimore and the Washington area consume most of the systems, providing water to about 60 percent of Marylanders.
About 50 water supply systems use surface water as their source. The other 3,603 water systems are run off of community wells.
Marylanders who have their own wells make up 13 percent of the population. Private wells aren’t regulated, so its the responsibility of the homeowner to regulate their water.
Lazur expressed that Dundalkians should be “thankful” that their water is operated on a city water supply because there is a lot of oversight and a lot of monitoring that takes place. He said that monitoring water supply is an involved process with calculated and specific measurements to get the maximum of drinking water quality.
All of Baltimore’s water treatments use the same steps when processing water: pre-chlorination, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, fluoridation and post-chlorination.
Lead levels in water
The meeting shifted to the topic of lead, and how it effects the water supply, even though Maryland no longer uses it.
“Lead becomes a problem in homes when water regulators change the water supply, but don’t add the corrosion control, resulting in the lead toxicity in their homes,” Lazur said.
Corrosion dissolves metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and plumbing, producing lead in water.
“When people change their water supply and the treatment, but don’t add the corrosion control, it results in the lead toxicity,” Lazur said.
Some citizens may have lead in their homes, and need to check their pipes.
As the presentation came to a close, Lazur informed attendees that they can purchase drinking water interpretation tools that will determine what kind of filter is needed for their water.
“There are some tools that will give you the filter needed in your home,” Lazur said.
Lazur showed different filters to use for different area, and urged the audience to change the filter which is important to avoid addition contaminates.
The meeting ended with questions and comments from the audience.
Dundalk resident Ray Stefanski thought the program was “informative.”
“I really enjoyed the presentation,” Stefanski said. “The water quality is excellent in Dundalk.”
There were more concerned citizens at the meeting than Dundalk resident Luis Rios thought would be in attendance.
“It’s good to see the people are interested about what’s going on in the community and in Dundalk,” Rios said.