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Highland Subdivision Water Quality Issues
Morgan County


The Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Division of Drinking Water (DDW) is addressing reported issues with culinary water at The Highland Subdivision in Morgan County. In Spring 2020, customers reported discolored water in their homes. As a result, DDW required the water system to collect additional water samples.

These additional water samples were collected from homes in the subdivision as well as from the springs that serve as the water source for the system. The samples were analyzed for bacteria, lead, copper, iron, manganese, pH, and alkalinity. A summary of sample results can be found in the “Sample Data Summary” section on this page.

Elevated copper levels were detected in six out of 20 samples collected from homes during the months of May, June, and July 2020. The elevated results ranged from 1.31 mg/L to 1.91 mg/L. The EPA Action Level for Copper is 1.30 mg/L. Consuming water with copper concentrations above the EPA’s Action Level may cause negative health effects. See the “Health Effects of Copper” section below for more information.

In June 2020, DDW required the water system to issue a public notice to all customers due to high copper results. Find the public notice here (2 MB).

What Customers Can Do

If customers are curious about the levels of copper, lead, or other contaminants at their specific residence, they should have their water tested by a certified laboratory. Customers should be aware that water quality can vary from one residence to another based on several factors, including the type of plumbing materials in each residence. Customers should consult with their physician if they have questions about their personal exposure to certain contaminants and any associated health effects.

Health Effects of Copper

Copper is a mineral and natural component in soils. In the correct amounts, it is an essential nutrient for humans and plants. Copper is widely distributed within the tissues of the body but accumulates primarily in the liver and kidneys.

The primary short-term health effect of excessive copper exposure is GI distress. Long-term health effects include liver and kidney damage. A single dose of 15 mg/L of copper can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and intestinal cramps. Severe cases of copper poisoning can lead to anemia and disruption of liver and kidney functions. Individuals with Wilson’s or Menke’s diseases are at higher risk from copper exposure.

Copper in drinking water normally comes from household plumbing rather than from the water system sources. Copper enters drinking water when plumbing materials containing copper (such as copper pipes or other components) react with water as it passes through. In addition to the amount of copper-containing materials present in a building, the chemistry of the water being delivered to the building plays an important role in the amount of copper that may be released into the drinking water.

Sample Data Summary (January – July 2020)

  • 20 lead and copper samples were collected from homes
    • 6 copper samples were above the Action Level of 1.30 mg/L
    • 0 lead samples were above the Action Level of 0.015 mg/L
  • 56 Total Coliform samples were collected
    • 11 were positive for Total Coliform; 1 was also positive for E. coli
      • 10 of the 11 positive Total Coliform samples (including the sample that was positive for E. coli) were collected from springs that serve as water sources
      • 1 positive Total Coliform sample was collected at a residence
  • 47 iron samples were collected
    • 4 iron samples were above the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level of 0.3 mg/L
      • 3 of the elevated iron samples were collected from a water source
      • 1 elevated iron sample was collected from a residence
  • 47 manganese samples were collected
    • 0 manganese samples were above the Maximum Contaminant Level of 0.10 mg/L or the Health Advisory Level of 0.05 mg/L

DDW Permitting

The Permitting Section of the DDW reviews all plans and specifications for compliance with the applicable Safe Drinking Water regulations (Utah Annotated Code R309-500).

All public drinking water projects must receive DDW Plan Approval (construction permit) and Operating Permit before being placed into service. R309-500-5(1)(a) defines a drinking water project as any construction, addition, modification of a drinking water facility that may affect the quality or quantity of water delivered.

The Permitting Section of DDW has the following documents under their review or pending approval:

  • Johnson Well No. 1
    • In July of 2020 Highland Subdivision Water System submitted a request for an Operating Permit to the Division for the Johnson Well No. 1.
    • Per R309-500-6 (2)(a) Division staff has 30 days to complete the review of all the required documents.
    • A site visit was conducted by Division staff on August 4, 2020 to verify the Johnson Well No. 1 was completed to R309-500 requirements and additional documentation was requested for DDW to complete the review.
    • Inspection Report: 7100 Inspection Report (5 MB)
    • A Temporary Operating Permit was issued on August 25, 2020: 7100 Temporary Operating Permit (197 KB)
  • Highland Subdivision Capacity Calculations
    • DDW received a request to perform a capacity assessment for the purpose of determining if the existing drinking system has sufficient capacity. The capacity of the system determines the number of Equivalent Residential Connections (ERCs) a public water system can support.
    • Highland Subdivision Water System has the current outstanding S094 Source capacity deficiency associated with the water system for lacking more than 20% of the required source capacity.
    • DDW reviewed the capacity information of the water system utilizing Division of Water Rights (DWRi) water use data. This includes reviewing and updating the safe yield of the spring sources and fire flow documentation
      • Springs Safe yield:
        • This review includes reviewing the safe yield determination of the Gordon Creek Spring 2 (WS002) and Gordon Creek Springs 7 (WS003)
        • The water system requested, and was granted, the use of an extended period of record on water use of ten years, rather than a rule stipulated three years to account for annual hydrologic variations.
        • Per R309-515-7(5)(b) the safe yield of the springs will be set at the 25th percentile of the water use data.
      • Fire Flow Documentation
        • The water system was requested to verify with the local fire authority what the current fire storage volume will be required to provide adequate water for the buildings connected to the water system.
    • The Division water system capacity review: 12203 Capacity Review 15005 (605 KB)
  • Disinfection Achieved
    • A system’s pathogen treatment effectiveness is typically expressed in terms of log10 removal or inactivation. For example, primary disinfection of a groundwater source is demonstrated by meeting a 4-log10 inactivation for virus. The level of inactivation by disinfection is calculated by taking the disinfection residual (Concentration) multiplied by the contact Time, and is referred to in terms of CT. For groundwater sources that must have continuous disinfection, a minimum CT of 12 is required for 4-log virus inactivation for water pH ranges between 6 and 9 and a worst-case scenario of water temperature of 0.5°C.
    • Highland Subdivision Water System spring sources at this point in time are not required to disinfect and continuous disinfection is not required by the DDW. The chlorination provided is considered volunteer disinfection.
    • In light of the recent water quality samples, DDW is requiring the Highland Subdivision to utilize DDW’s updated monitoring report to verify the public is protected in the event of Total Coliform present in the source water.
    • The water system will report their chlorination records to verify the accuracy of actual achieved disinfection credit received on a given day.
    • This information is in injunction with DDW’s initiating a source vulnerability assessment to determine if continuous chlorination or additional treatment is required for the spring source water.