Buckley residents warned of violation

By Shawn Skager

The Courier-Herald

On May 12 Buckley water system users were notified by mail of a violation of Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards.

The flier, sent by the city, notified water customers of the violation, but stressed that the violation does not constitute an emergency and no immediate action was required.

The violation issued by the EPA cited the city for having excess amounts of Haloacetic Acids, a disinfection byproduct of the chlorination process.

The violation was discovered by EPA testing, which sampled the last four quarters (May 6, 2005, to March 20, 2006). The cumulative levels were less than .001 milligrams per liter higher than the EPA's standard of 0.060, according to Buckley Public Works Supervisor John Dansby.

Currently, according to Dansby, the city is working with Rainier School, which operates the water treatment chlorination for the Buckley water supply.

“Other water districts are having this problem,” he said. “We're trying to actively lower the chlorination and the water treatment plant is trying to get instruments to find what is coming off the river.”

According to Dansby, the prime responsibility for treating the water rests with Rainier School's treatment center.

“They are the water treatment operators, it's primarily up to them to get it lowered,” he said. “That's where they dose the chlorine. We're the distributors of the water, they do all the treatment.”

“It's very important that we provide the correct amount of disinfection,” Cary Bermudez, plant manager at Rainier School said. “We don't want to lower it to where you're not getting the right amount of disinfection with the water.”

Bermudez said they will also be looking at ways to improve the testing sampling.

“They're also planning a better setup for the chlorine levels sampling,” he said. “The results on how you're doing can be skewed by how they're sampling. They just want to make sure that we're getting the disinfection that is required to clean the water.”

Bermudez also said there will be an inter-agency meeting on June 5 to discuss the problem and measures to rectify it.

The city of Buckley gets its water from four different sources, according to the flier. The first is a surface water diversion from South Prairie Creek as well as from three local groundwater wells. The water system is operated jointly with Rainier School, with Buckley handling distribution of the water and the Rainier School handling treatment and filtration.

According to the letter, Buckley water users need not use bottle water, but should consult their doctors is they have specific health concerns.

The letter also stated that Buckley and Rainier School anticipate resolving the problem and meeting EPA standards by the next 12-month reporting period.

According to the EPA's water quality Web site at, “while disinfectants are effective in controlling many microorganisms, they react with natural organic and inorganic matter in source water and distribution systems to form potentially harmful DBPs (disinfection byproducts). Many of these DBPs have been shown to cause cancer and reproductive and developmental effects in laboratory animals.”

The letter states, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not been able to link exposure to DBP's at low concentration levels and the health risks association with high concentration level exposure, but due to the large population of Americans potentially at-risk from low-level DBP exposure have cited this as impetus for regulation.”

An information sheet on Disinfection Byproduct Health Effects is available at the Buckley City Hall, 933 Main St.

For more information, call Dansby at 253-261-9826 or Bermudez at 360-829-3052. Inquiries can also be made by mail at: City of Buckley, P.O. Box 1960, Buckley, 98321 or by e-mail at

Shawn Skager can be reached at

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