Water quality among the best anywhere

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 17, 2002

If you were in a rush when you paid the water bill this month, you might have overlooked it. You might even have tossed it in the trash. If you did, go back and dig it out.

It’s not every day the mail brings good news.

Included in this month’s bill is a copy of the 2001 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report for the Water Works and Sewer Board of The City of Selma.

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Think of it as a report card for the quality of the water you drink.

Here’s the good part: Selma’s water system received an A-plus. The system meets or exceeds all state and federal requirements for drinking water safety. In water and sewer circles, that’s the equivalent of batting a thousand. Selma’s water system may not be perfect (more about that later), but it’s awfully close.

“We put out good water,” allowed Paul Glaze. “We really do.”

Glaze is superintendent of water treatment for the city. He’s also the man in charge of monitoring the water system for the more than 80 substances, or constituents, that state and federal agencies test for each year. Things like lead, mercury, vinyl chloride and 1-2-4 trichlorobenzene.

Glaze said that while he’s proud of the report, it’s really nothing new. “I’ve been here 10 years,” he shrugged, “and we haven’t been written up since I’ve been here.”

Selma gets its water from six groundwater wells, which draw from three separate aquifers, or underground reservoirs. Glaze estimates that the city treats 150 million gallons of water each month. His department tests for water quality every day. Once a month, they send a sample off to the state to be tested.

“ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) keeps a pretty tight check on things,” he affirmed.

As the report points out, “All drinking water (including bottled drinking water), may be reasonably expected to contain at least small amounts of some constituents.” Selma’s drinking water includes traces of several constituents, but none exceeds the level established as safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Glaze said the biggest problem with the city’s water supply is iron removal, which accounts for the brownish tint Selma residents occasionally see when they turn on the tap. While the iron may be aesthetically displeasing to some, Glaze said it poses no danger to health.

“We’ve got good water,” he said, “but if you looked at our filter you might think, ‘My Lord! Is that what I’m drinking?’ It looks bad sometimes, but it’s just iron. We just backwash our filters and send it on down to the wastewater treatment plant.”

In addition to filtering the water, Glaze said his department also adds chlorine to kill any bacteria that might be present.

Despite his department’s having met or exceeded every state and federal requirement for 10 years now, Glaze has no plaque hanging in his office. That, he said, is because no official award exists for such an accomplishment.

“They have an award for best plant operation,” he said. “We won that two years in a row awhile back. But no, sir, there’s no award that I’m aware of.

“But as long as we meet the requirements and keep the bills down, we’re satisfied.”