M.U.D. adds fluoride to its treated water to promote dental health. Fluoridation was approved by Omaha voters May 14, 1968, by a vote of 54,185 in favor to 39,827 opposed.
In 2008, the Nebraska Unicameral passed LB 245 which requires all Nebraska cities and towns with populations over 1,000 to add fluoride to public water systems.
The Missouri River has naturally occurring fluoride in the range of 0.5 to 0.6 parts per million and the Platte River has it in the range of 0.25 to 0.4 parts per million. The District adds enough fluoride to make the tap water concentration approximately 0.8 parts per million.
M.U.D. consults with the State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services regarding any adjustments to fluoride in its treatment process.
Questions about drinking water? Call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800.426.4791 or go to their website: http://water.epa.gov/drink/.
Chloramines, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, are used to kill potentially harmful bacteria in the water. Approximately 20 percent of water supply systems in the U.S., including Council Bluffs and Lincoln, use chloramine as a disinfection agent.
M.U.D. changed the water disinfection process at its water treatment plants January 21, 2003 to ensure your drinking water continues to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for safe drinking water.
Previously, we used chlorine for both primary and secondary disinfection in the water treatment process to guard against bacterial growth in the distribution system. Like many other communities, we experienced elevated levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) with chlorine as a disinfectant. THMs are a suspected carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), created in small amounts as a by-product when natural organics in water combine with chlorine.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the standard to 80 parts per billion January 1, 2002, as the maximum level of THMs allowed in drinking water. Our treated water averaged 74 parts per billion. The District may have exceeded the new standard on occasion with only chlorine as a disinfectant.
The EPA recommends chloramines as a disinfectant and as a way to avoid THM formation. Chloramines insure water remains bacteria-free for a longer time period than chlorine. With chloramines, we expect the THM level to average 40 parts per billion. Chlorine continues to be the primary disinfectant. Chloramines are used for secondary disinfection. Estimated costs to use chloramines are $3.7 million for capital improvements and $200,000 per year for operation costs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the major source of lead exposure for children in the United States is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings. So far there does not appear to be a national problem with lead in drinking water, however U.S. EPA is looking into this. U.S. EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule seems to be working as intended. Where there is a compliance problem, U.S. EPA or a State may take action to correct the situation.
If there is lead in my drinking water, where does it come from?
Lead in drinking water rarely comes from the water treatment plant or from water mains. Lead comes from faucets, plumbing fixtures and lead solder within the home and from lead service lines, if they are present. Lead is seldom found in natural sources of drinking water.
Why is there lead in my faucets and fixtures?
In 1986, Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act to allow faucets and other plumbing fixtures to contain up to 8% lead. Congress defined such fixtures as “lead-free.”
What happens if a water system exceeds the 15 ppb Action Level?
According to U.S EPA, the 15 ppb Action Level is used to indicate whether corrosion-control efforts are effective and to measure progress in reducing lead levels. All large water systems are required to maintain corrosion control. If a large water system detects lead above 15 ppb in the tap water in more than 10% of a sample set of homes, then the water system further informs the public about the health effects so that consumers can make decisions about the sources of lead in their homes.
What can consumers do?
To reduce exposure from lead, consider using an in-home filter or follow the CDC’s advice on running taps on COLD before drinking. Homeowners who install filters must use filters that are certified to remove lead. Also, read the filter’s instructions on care and use. Homeowners should also install plumbing fixtures containing no lead. Information on plumbing fixtures and in-home filters is provided by the National Sanitation Foundation at 1-800-NSF-MARK or www.nsf.org. Never boil water to remove lead, because this concentrates the lead as water evaporates.
What can Congress do?
Congress currently defines “lead-free” as 8% lead content. Instead, Congress should make illegal the manufacture of faucets and fixtures contributing to lead exposure. This would reduce the amount of lead in drinking water. For more information and tips, see the Centers for Disease Control question and answer page about lead and drinking water: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/spotLights/leadinwater.htm. The U.S. EPA operates a National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-Lead. There is also a useful website at www.epa.gov/lead
As required by the Reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act, 1996, and the passage of LB 517 by the Nebraska Unicameral in 1997, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) completed a source water assessment of our water supply in 2003.
This assessment includes a map of the sources of water, an inventory of potential contaminant sources, and a determination of the vulnerability of the system to contamination.
Look for a condensed version of the report in the Related Resources box at the right. If you have any questions, contact Water Operations at 402.504.7774.
You also may schedule an appointment to view the source water assessment in its entirety.
Home water treatment devices are not needed since M.U.D. water surpasses all federal and state Safe Drinking Water standards. However, if you're considering the purchase of a home treatment system to enhance the aesthetics of the water:
- Look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label. Find out what the device will remove.
- Find out the total cost of maintenance. Some units can harbor disease-causing bacteria if not properly maintained and serviced.
Does using a home water treatment device guarantee my water is safe?
No. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not recommend home treatment devices as a substitute for public water treatment because of the difficulty in monitoring their performance. Home treatment devices are not tested or regulated by the federal government. Some, however, are tested by independent laboratories. If you want to use a water treatment device, carefully choose one according to the water conditions in your area. Also, be aware that a device needs to be properly maintained or it could cause water quality problems.