Topeka Added To List of Cities with Unsafe Drinking Water

Topeka drinking water exceeds EPA standards for contaminant

For the first time, the drinking water provided by the city of Topeka is out of compliance with a federal standard for contaminants, city utilities director Bob Sample said Monday.

The city of Topeka hadn't exceeded any maximum contaminant level standards since those were implemented in 1998, said Sample, a Topeka city employee since 1975.

He took sips from a glass of city tap water as he described in an interview how, when the city disinfects drinking water, disinfectants combine with organic and inorganic matter present in water to form compounds called "Disinfection byproducts."

The EPA sets standards for controlling the levels of 87 different contaminants in drinking water, including haloacetic acids.

He said the EPA notified the city Feb. 16 that the most recent testing showed that at one site, near S.W. 29th and Urish Road, the drinking water exceeded EPA standards for the preceding three-month period by containing an average of 60.6 micrograms per liter of haloacetic acids.

Sample said the city was looking at using powdered activated carbon and making changes in polymer to improve the removal of organisms that cause the formation of haloacetic acids while also improving water taste and odor control.

He said the city would continue to keep its drinking water customers informed as it moves forward.