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OUC explains business of safe drinking water

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency earlier this year for lead contaminating drinking water in Flint, Mich. Orlando's water provider, Orlando Utilities Commission, serves 427,000 people. Ken Ksionek, OUC's general manager, spoke with the Orlando Sentinel about the city-owned utility's business of delivering safe water.

Describe the water testing OUC does and how much it costs each year.

Since the early 1990s, the federal Lead and Copper Rule requires OUC to sample homes for lead and copper. OUC meets the state's requirement to test inside homes and we also respond to customer requests for testing. We were also required to study our source water to determine optimal water treatment techniques to minimize corrosion. The OUC Water Quality Lab monitors the water at each of our seven water treatment plants every two weeks to ensure optimal corrosion control. The lead and copper survey costs approximately $5,000 every three years. Monitoring for corrosion control costs about $8,000 per year. The cost to routinely monitor all of our drinking-water parameters each year is over $800,000.

Wasn't the Flint utility required to do pretty much the same?

All utilities are required to comply with the Lead and Copper Rule.

Why not test more frequently?

OUC does test more frequently than the rule requires. Once each year, we analyze all of our source-water wells, the treated water leaving each plant, and additional sites within the distribution system for lead, copper and over 50 other parameters. We also test for lead and copper in individual homes when requested by the homeowner.