Fluoridation is still on hold at OWASA, but the utility’s staff will learn from and improve the distribution system connected to a February water-main break in northeastern Chapel Hill.
A 12-inch water main that was installed improperly, just inches above a storm water pipe, was determined to be the root cause of the break, a consultant told Orange Water and Sewer Authority officials. The break followed an overfeed of fluoride into the Jones Ferry Road water treatment system, caused by operator and mechanical errors.
The failures shut down water service to more than 80,000 customers for about 24 hours.
OWASA’s Board of Directors approved a plan largely focused on the area around the water main break at Foxcroft Drive and Summerfield Crossing. However, staff also could re-evaluate how water mains are replaced and consider using a newly installed metering system to improve break and leak detection, said Vishnu Gangadharan, capital projects engineering manager.
The board also heard about proposed improvements to OWASA’s fluoridation system but delayed a decision to get more information.
Customers again asked the board Thursday to reconsider adding fluoride to local drinking water. Customer William Young took issue with buying equipment that he said is unnecessary and still prone to failure.
“You are introducing a toxin, a poison into the water that is unnecessary and not beneficial, and however small the risk that your system does not work, there is that risk,” Young said.
“Systems fail, pipelines leak, power plants overheat and melt down, and there is no reason to believe that you can come up with a system that is 100 percent foolproof and guarantee that there will never be a situation where you poison the water here. You could guarantee that if you simply stop putting fluoride into the water,” he added........