Geary County RWD 4 is a public water system located approximately three miles northwest of Junction City, on the east side of Milford Reservoir. The system is supplied with water from two wells located in the Rolling Meadows Golf Course at the south end of the district. The district currently has about 320 meters and produces approximately 70,000 gallons per day during colder months and about 200,000 gallons per day during warmer months. The district has seen about a 10% growth during the past year and there is continuing pressure from developers to add more units. The district expects this trend to continue due largely to the anticipated growth at Fort Riley.
The district started out a number of years ago as a small subdivision called Rockwood Subdivision and while growing to its current size as a rural water district, was plagued with discolored water conditions resulting in consumer complaints. One of the common customer questions was, “Why doesn’t someone do something about this rusty water?” How many of you have been asked this question?
Red and black water problems at this rural water district were the result of high levels of iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn). Test results of samples collected in November 2005 were as follows: Well No. 1 had iron at 4.85 mg/l and manganese at 3.18 mg/l; Well No. 2 had iron at 3.30 mg/l and manganese at 2.01 mg/l. These levels greatly exceed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) secondary drinking water standards of 0.3 mg/l for iron and 0.05 mg/l for manganese.
Guidelines, not standards
What are secondary standards? The EPA established National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations that set non-mandatory water quality standards for 15 contaminants. Iron and manganese are two of these. The EPA and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) do not enforce these “Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels” or “SMCLs”. They are established only as guidelines to assist public water systems in managing their drinking water for aesthetic considerations, such as taste, color, and odor. These contaminants are not considered to present a risk to human health at the SMCL.