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Water-Related News

OCEPD assists Wedgefield neighborhood by testing Pluris water quality

Before she saw test results of water drawn from taps in her Wedgefield neighborhood, Evelyn Perez knew not to drink it.

"We've always told the kids they're not supposed to get the water in their mouths when they shower," said Perez, 40, a mother of three girls and a member of the Facebook group, "Pluris Water Sucks," an online gathering place for east Orange customers of the private water-provider.

She said even her cat Missy turns up her nose at tap water poured in her bowl.

As a courtesy, Orange County, which has no jurisdiction over Pluris, recently agreed to sample water from 18 Wedgefield homes at a cost of $500 per home after residents raised concerns to Commissioner Ted Edwards about the cloudy appearance and rotten-egg smell of the water.

Preliminary results from the first two homes sampled by county staff showed levels of chemical compounds above limits set by state rules, said Julie Bortles, an environmental supervisor for Orange County. The compounds, known as trihalomethanes or TTHMs, are by-products that can form when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to rid drinking water of microbiological contaminants that can sicken consumers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors and regulates so-called byproducts such as TTHM because of suspected health risk connected to long-term exposure, including bladder, colon and rectal cancers.

Orange County is turning its findings over to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for follow-up.

The DEP regulates private utilities like Pluris, which serves a population of about 5,300 in Wedgefield, according to state records.

Because of complaints, the agency conducted an on-site inspection of Pluris' facilities in east Orange and launched "an in-depth review" of required water-monitoring data, spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said. She said Pluris' operations were in compliance and its water met state standards.

She said the county's findings "do not indicate an immediate health risk" but will lead to additional sampling and testing.