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Brindisi wants more testing of Utica’s drinking water, but officials say it’s fine

Tom Magnarelli
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi.

Utica-area Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi is calling for more testing of the city's drinking water. The question is over the levels of chloroform and other carcinogenic contaminants, contained in the water.

Brindisi said a report from the Environment Working Group shows chloroform levels at 48 parts per billion in the water at the Mohawk Valley Water Authority. That’s higher than the state and national averages as well as the water tested in Syracuse and Rome.

“This is a very significant public health concern, and it needs to be transparent," Brindisi said. "We need more answers on the safety of one of our most vital resources, our water. The public deserves regular updates on water quality that are concise, complete and easy to understand.”

But Mohawk Valley Water Authority Executive Director Patrick Becher said the chloroform levels are still well below the maximum amount of 80 parts per billion allowed by the federal government.

“We have not exceeded any of those levels," Becher said. "We remain fully in compliance with all federal and state drinking water regulations. I’m sure if you could talk to the state health department as they review our numbers, they'll tell you that our water is deemed to be safe. It’s very good water.”

Becher said the reason chloroform levels are higher in Utica is because their water comes from the creeks and streams that flow from the Adirondack watershed. Organic matter washes into the system, interacts with disinfecting chlorine, and creates the chloroform byproduct. To combat the problem, Becher said the Mohawk Valley Water Authority spent tens of millions of dollars replacing open reservoirs with water tanks and using carbon filtration to remove vegetation.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.