Total Organic Carbon - what you need to know

 Total Organic Carbon - what you need to know

In April 2016, we mailed a cover letter and official water quality notice to approximately 47,000 water customers(map - green shaded area) to inform them of a minor exceedance for a water quality standard for Total Organic Carbon (TOC) at the Fountain Valley Authority (FVA) treatment plant.

The maximum limit for TOC set by the State and Environmental Protection Agency is 2.00 miligrams per liter. Our exceedance was 2.05 miligrams per liter. As of second quarter 2016, FVA was back in compliance and is continuing to decrease the level of TOC. Currently, FVA's running annual average for TOC is 1.76 mg/L.

The customers who received the April 2016 notification are delivered some blend of FVA water.

What happened?
TOC is what is left after living things or natural materials decay.  All living things are made of carbon.  When leaves and dirt get into reservoirs eventually they break down to elemental carbon. During 2014 and 2015 we received significantly more precipitation which carried more of this organic matter into our streams and reservoirs (in this case, Pueblo Reservoir, which is the water source for the FVA).

While the FVA treatment plant – completed in the mid-1980s – is equipped to treat for TOC, the higher-than-normal TOC levels in the source water created a scenario that has temporarily exceeded the plant’s ability to meet the water quality standard this year.

Does TOC pose a health risk?
Although this exceedance does not pose an immediate health risk and is not an emergency, we are required by the State to send a notification to all potentially affected customers.

You can continue to use this water safely for drinking, sanitary and household needs.

What is the Fountain Valley Authority System?
FVA, located south of Colorado Springs near the Ray Nixon Power Plant, is jointly owned and operated by Colorado Springs Utilities, Security Water and Sanitation District, Widefield Water and Sanitation District, Stratmoor Hills and the City of Fountain.

The FVA system has a delivery capacity of 11 million gallons of water per day (MGD). In comparison, our Mesa Water Treatment Plant has a 42 MGD capacity and our Pine Valley Water Treatment Treatment Plant has a 88 MGD capacity.

What if I'm a customer of districts in Stratmoor Hills, Security, Widefield or Fountain?
Other partner agencies must notify their own customers of the TOC exceedance. We are unable to address how partnering agencies operate their distribution systems.

What are you doing to fix the issue?
Currently, the FVA is conducting extensive research on ways to further reduce TOC in the water both entering and leaving the treatment plant. To date, we've reviewed intakes at Pueblo Reservoir, started investigating alternative coagulants and treatment technologies, and moved up the FVA Facility Master Plan from 2017 to 2016.