(LOUISVILLE, Ky—January 13, 2014) — Louisville Water Co. is prepared to handle the chemical that spilled into the Elk River impacting thousands of West Virginians. Traces of the licorice-smelling chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), is expected to make its way into our area later this week. The Elk River joins the Kanawha River, which joins the Ohio River.
This is not a health concern for Louisville Water customers. Since the spill was reported last Thursday, MCHM concentrations have steadily decreased. If levels of the chemical are detected near Louisville Water intakes, our Riverbank Filtration System will naturally filter this. We can also use carbon to remove any odors.
The Ohio River is a much larger body of water, which will help dilute the chemical.
Since the spill occurred, we’ve worked closely with the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission known as ORSANCO (the monitoring and water quality agency for the Ohio River) and Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW). Cincinnati and Louisville are the two largest water utilities on the Ohio River. We are sampling the water upstream and monitoring the chemical concentration to determine if carbon treatment will be needed.
The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) was established to control and abate pollution in the Ohio River Basin. It operates programs to improve water quality in the Ohio River and its tributaries, including: setting waste water discharge standards; performing biological assessments; monitoring for the chemical and physical properties of the waterways; and conducting special surveys and studies. ORSANCO also coordinates emergency response activities for spills or accidental discharges to the river.
Louisville Water provides an abundant, safe supply of drinking water to over 850,000 people in Louisville Metro and surrounding counties. On average, the company produces 121 million gallons of Louisville pure tap® each day. Louisville Water began as Kentucky’s first public water provider in 1860.