The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission is notifying customers of a violation in drinking water quality regulations.

According to the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, sample results from December indicated that a rise in haloacetic acids (or HAA5) had exceeded regular limits established by MassDEP’s Safe Drinking Water regulations. The levels were not an immediate health hazard. Residents can continue using their water. 

HAA5 are formed when chlorine reacts with naturally dissolved organic matter (material from leaves, algae, or aquatic plants) found in surface water supplies. The above-average rainfall in 2018 increased the levels of dissolved organic matter in Cobble Mountain Reservoir, which supplies the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission drinking water. 

Chlorine is used to disinfect waterborne pathogens (such as E. coli, cholera, and typhoid), which are considered the largest health risk associated with drinking water. Chlorine has been used to clean water since the early 20th century. 

The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission said the presence of elevated HAA5 in drinking water is not an immediate health hazard. If this had been a public health emergency, customers would have been notified within 24 hours.

The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission added they are currently evaluating modifications to make to its existing treatment processes to reduce HAA5 levels in the distribution system. A facilities improvement plan is already underway that will identify long-term treatment-process upgrades to more effectively remove dissolved organic matter.