Additive Could Help SC Town's Drinking Water


The city of Belton, South Carolina, recently revealed that elevated levels of lead had been found in some homes’ drinking water during a few-month monitoring period. To combat the issue, the city proposed using a phosphate-based additive that will help control the release of lead.

According to the Independent Mail, orthophosphate is an additive often used to control the release of lead and copper. When used in water treatment, the additive serves as a protective barrier on service lines and household plumbing to help keep lead from getting into drinking water. The city’s lead problem has largely been attributed to old pipes in old homes.

Lead in the Water

Earlier this month, the city announced the elevated lead level issue was found during a monitoring period between June and September 2018, which revealed that the lead level was 0.058 milligrams per liter; the public needs to be notified when lead levels hit 0.015 milligrams per liter.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control notified the city of the issue, and will be responsible for monitoring actions needed to correct the issue moving forward. City Manager Alan Sims noted that the city buys its water from the Belton-Honea Path Water Authority, and does not conduct further treatment after purchase.

Sims also noted that the city’s water is customarily tested for lead once every three years, and during the last monitoring period, in 2015, lead levels then did not require public notice.

Corrective Additive

The DHEC issued a notice of violation to the city on Jan. 17, for failing to meet a deadline to notify the public about the elevated levels of lead in the water.

"The city in discussions with the Belton-Honea Path Water Authority has determined that the only change to the drinking water treatment process since the 2015 lead testing was a change in the coagulant chemical used to treat the drinking water," the city said.

For the city to use the additive, the plan must first be approved by the DHEC. Once approval is granted, it will take another four to six weeks for it to cycle through all elements of water treatment, noted Mitch Ellenburg, the general manager of the Belton-Honea Path Water Authority. The entire process could take a minimum of two to three months.

Belton has been monitoring copper and lead levels in its drinking water since the program was started by the EPA. The 2018 lead violation was the city’s first, according to city officials.


Tagged categories: Health & Safety; Health and safety; Lead; NA; North America; Pipes; potable water

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.