Water Quality

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FAQs

1. What can I do if my drinking water tastes "different"?

2. Why do I have low water pressure?

3. Is there fluoride in my water?

4. What is my water's hardness?

5. How much chlorine is in my water?

6. Why does my water sometimes have a "cloudy" or "milky" color?

7. How is my drinking water treated to make it safe?

8. How can I find out more information about my water source?

9. My water has a very offensive odor. It smells like methane gas, a chemical odor, or even a cat odor. What is the problem?

10. Is it okay to use hot water from the tap for cooking?

11. My aerators are stopped up and there are white particles in my water.

12. I'm concerned about lead in my drinking water. Tell me more.

13. What should I do if my water is an unusual color?

 

1. What can I do if my drinking water tastes "different"?

Four suggestions are as follows:

· Store some drinking water in a closed glass container in the refrigerator (warm drinking water has more taste than cold drinking water). Although plastic bottles are okay for storing drinking water in the refrigerator, some types of plastic will cause a taste in the water. If you are having trouble, use a different plastic bottle.

· Some people object to the chlorine taste of their drinking water. Boiling tap water for 5 minutes should remove most of the disinfectant, if not all of it. Of course, some of the minerals in the water will be concentrated a little by the boiling, but this should not be a problem in most cases. After the water cools, refrigerate it. Remember that once the disinfectant is removed, the water must be treated like any other food. Keep it covered, and use it as quickly as possible.

· Adding one or two teaspoons of lemon juice to refrigerated drinking water may result in a pleasant-tasting drink.

· If these suggestions do not solve your problem, contact the water quality supervisor for more information on how we may help.

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2. Why do I have low water pressure?

The following are some suggestions to look for inside of your house:

· Check for a clogged screen on one of your faucets.

· Check faucets to see if they are leaking.

· Check your shut off valve and see if it is opened all the way.

 

The following are some suggestions to look for outside of your house:

· There could be a leak in the water line between the water meter and your home. If you notice that water is standing in your yard, especially in dry weather, you may have a leak in your yard line.

· There could be a water main break. If you notice that water is coming out of the ground or street in front of your house, or in your neighborhood, there may be a main break.

· Listen for the sound of running water inside and outside of your home, especially under your house.

· There could be an authorized or unauthorized opening of a fire hydrant in your neighborhood.
· There could have been a car accident near your home where a fire hydrant was damaged. If the fire hydrant was knocked off or loosened from the distribution main during the accident, it could leak causing a drop in pressure.

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3. Is there fluoride in my water?

Yes. Although fluoride is a natural trace element found in varying amounts in almost all soils, EPA and Dental Health Association requirements require that fluoride be added to the water systems within certain levels. PW began adding fluoride to the drinking water at its Paducah plant in 1960 and maintains levels near 1 ppm. According to the American Dental Association, people who drink fluoridated water have a 40 - 50% reduction in the number of cavities that would have occurred without fluoride. Remember that some home filtration devices remove fluoride from water and bottled water may or may not contain fluoride.

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4. What is my water's hardness?

PW hardness averages 100-140 mg/l or 6 -8 grains of hardness at its Paducah plant. Total hardness is defined as the sum of calcium and magnesium ion concentrations, expressed as mg/l calcium carbonate. It is the measure of the capacity of water to precipitate soap. Water that is hard will make lathering difficult or "hard" to achieve, hence the term. Some customers are concerned about the accumulation of these minerals in coffee pots. To remove them, fill the coffee pot with vinegar and let it sit overnight. Then rinse the coffee pot thoroughly before using. Vinegar will also work as a soak for clogged showerheads and faucet aerators. Hardness does not affect the safety of water.

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5. How much chlorine is in my water?

Many water suppliers use chlorine as the primary disinfectant to inactivate potential disease causing organisms. PW uses chlorine dioxide as its primary treatment plant disinfectant with the addition of chlorine as the disinfectant in the distribution system. Federal legislation known as the Surface Water Treatment Rule, promulgated in 1989, necessitated changes in the way disinfectants such as chlorine are added to water. PW average residual chlorine level for water leaving the Paducah treatment plant is 1.0 - 1.25 ppm. These levels assure us that the chlorine levels meet the required regulatory levels. For Paducah this level keeps regulated Total Trihalomethanes at a running annual average of between 35-40 ppb. Chlorine is used in small quantities and has benefited the general population since 1903 eliminating the pathogens such as hepatitis, typhoid, and cholera. Many water suppliers use chlorine as their primary disinfectant to inactivate these potential disease causing microbial contaminants; however, in our Paducah plant we use chlorine dioxide in the treatment process with the addition of chlorine as the disinfectant in the distribution system.

 

If you feel PW drinking water had a chlorine taste, try leaving a closed glass container of water in your refrigerator overnight. Glass containers are better than plastic because some plastics impart a taste to the water. The chlorine will be reduced by morning, and the taste will improve.

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6. Why does my water sometimes have a "cloudy" or "milky" color?

Cloudy or milky looking water is caused by tiny air bubbles in the water similar to the gas bubbles in soda pop. Under certain conditions, water is capable of becoming saturated with dissolved air. This is a common occurrence during the winter months of the year and is due to the ability of cold water to retain large quantities of dissolved air. As the water temperature rises or when water pressure decreases, the dissolved air rapidly comes out of the solution, leaving a temporary cloudy appearance to the water. This condition usually lasts a minute or two, after which time the water will be clear. Under normal pressure conditions, the air will quickly dissipate in a few minutes and the water may then be used for drinking and cooking purposes. Although it is not a health hazard, entrapped air can impart an aesthetically unpleasant appearance to the water. If the consumer finds this appearance too unappetizing, a simple remedy is to fill a container with cold water and place it on the counter or in the refrigerator.

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7. How is my drinking water treated to make it safe?

 

Paducah Treatment Plant Information

Paducah Treatment Plant PW utilizes a water treatment technology known as "Conventional Treatment" in its Paducah water purification facilities. In conventional treatment, multiple treatment techniques are strung together in series to create an efficient and cost effective method of water purification. PW employs all of the following technologies in an effort to produce the most consistent and safest water available:

1. Pretreatment of raw river water- Chlorine dioxide (ClO2) is added in the raw water coming from the river as a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria, to use the contact time as another barrier to reducing Total Trihalomethane formation, and to keep the intake lines free of zebra mussels.

2. Coagulation- Chemical addition of Aluminum Sulfate as a coagulant to attract and bind impurities for removal.

3. Disinfection- Chemical addition of chlorine dioxide (ClO2) to inactivate potential disease causing microbial contaminants.

4. Sedimentation- Physical process, which allows the coagulated solids from the coagulation step to settle out of the water.

5. Filtration- Physical process designed to remove tiny impurities still present in the water after the coagulation / sedimentation step.

6. Post-Disinfection- Chemical addition of chlorine (Cl2) to inactivate potential disease causing microbial contaminants within the distribution system.

7. Fluoridation- Chemical addition of Sodium Silica-Fluoride (Na2SiF6) to elevate the natural fluoride level in the water to the optimum value of 1.00 mg/l for dental cavity prevention in children.

8. Corrosion Control- Chemical addition of a 70-30 blend polyphosphate to minimize the corrosion of plumbing lines. Phosphate is a food additive.

 

All these processes are combined in an effort to provide water quality that is reliable and safe for consumption.

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8. How can I find out more information about my water source?

Information on the Paducah system is available by calling the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) at 513/231-7719 or by visiting their website at www.orsanco.org. A Source Water Assessment and Protection Plan Susceptibility Analysis and Protection Recommendations for McCracken County is complete and available for inspection at the Purchase Area Development District office at 270/247-7171.

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9. My water has a very offensive odor. It smells like methane gas, a chemical odor, or even a cat odor. What is the problem?

Our first question to you is, do you have new carpet, curtains, wallpaper, etc.? Did the odor seem to occur after its installation or any other renovation to your home? If so, the chemicals from the carpet or renovation materials may be mixing in the air with the disinfectant that PW uses to give its customers "safe" drinking water. When you shower, wash clothes, flush the toilet, the water mixes in the air with the chemical smell from the new carpet, etc. and an odor occurs, which can prove to be very unpleasant. Generally by airing out the area the odor will be eliminated, usually within 2-3 weeks, however, because Berber carpet has a tighter weave, it may take 6 weeks or longer to be rid of the odor.

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10. Is it okay to use hot water from the tap for cooking?

Using hot water straight from the tap for cooking is generally not recommended. Hot water is more likely to contain dissolved metals such as iron, copper, and lead picked up from the household plumbing and water heater's tank. A better idea is to allow your cold water to run for a few seconds until it is cold. Then use this water for cooking and other consumption purposes. Allowing the water to run to its coldest ensures adequate flushing of the home's water service line and the interior household plumbing, which have both been identified as possible sources of copper and lead contamination in drinking water.

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11. My aerators are stopped up and there are white particles in my water.

These particles are probably decomposed pieces from the dip tube in your water heater. There are two ways to check. Either test to see if the particles float in water or if they melt. If they do, you need to call the manufacturer of your water heater.

 

In 1993, the supplier of polypropylene tubes to many of the water heater manufacturers had a problem with the anti-oxidant used in the extrusion of these tubes. Without the proper anti-oxidant, these tubes, which are called dip tubes or filter tubes, are prone to early failure or disintegration. The oxidized tube or plastic then may show up in the consumer's water line as white particles, clogging aerators, showerheads, and washing machines.

 

The supplier of these tubes is aware of the problem and requests that consumers experiencing this problem call the technical or customer service department of the water heater manufacturer. When contacting their representative, the following information should be readily available:

1. Model and serial numbers of the water heater (usually attached to the jacket of the heater).

2. Address where the heater is located.

3. Name and address of the installer and any service agency that performed service on the heater.

4. Date of original installation and dates of any service work performed.

5. Details of the problems as you can best describe them.

6. List of people (plumbers, contractors, water department, etc.) who have been contacted regarding your problem along with the dates you talked with them.

If it has been determined the dip tube is not the problem, you may call the water quality supervisor with your concern on the quality of your water.

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12. I'm concerned about lead in my drinking water. How can I get more information?

Because lead can leach or dissolve at the consumers' piping, PW monitors for lead at the customer's tap. PW has no detectable quantity of lead leaving its Paducah treatment plant and does not have lead distribution pipes; however, when water flows through piping and fixtures that contain lead, trace levels of lead can dissolve into drinking water and potential lead leaching can occur. Lead pipe, lead-soldered joints, and brass or bronze fixtures and fittings are the typical sources for lead. Because PW uses corrosion control treatment techniques in its Paducah plant in order to prevent corrosion, it can thereby reduce the potential for corrosion leachate by-products (lead, zinc, iron, and copper) from dissolving. If concerned, reducing risks associated with lead can be accomplished by "flushing" the tap before drinking or using water for cooking purposes. More information concerning lead can be obtained by contacting the water quality supervisor.

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13. What should I do if my water is an unusual color?

PW feeds a corrosion control product to help protect the lines from depositing sediment in its Paducah distribution system. However, discolored or "red" water can result when the natural sedimentation in pipelines is disturbed. This sedimentation consists of calcium, which comes from the water itself or rust, which is formed by the corrosion of pipes. Increase in water flow in the pipes resulting from a main break or when a fire hydrant is opened are just two reasons for this discoloration. Usually the problem can be solved by allowing the cold water to run until it is clear again. If this does not solve the problem and the water remains discolored, please call our water quality department for further help. Discoloration does not present a health hazard; however, it is not advisable to wash clothes while the water is discolored because of the possibility of staining your clothes.

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