Some Tottenham residents are concerned that the water coming from their tap is unsafe to drink.
During a public meeting on Monday night, residents got to address New Tecumseth town council about the drinking water they say not only looks disgusting, but is also dangerous to consume.
"This is affecting real people and residents," Nancy McBride told council. “We have a chemical compound in our water called THM: Trihalomethanes. We actually have above national guideline for this carcinogen."
Provincial guidelines state levels of trihalomethanes shouldn't exceed 100 micrograms per litre. Water tests from the past two years have shown THMs in Tottenham's water at levels of 150 and above.
“Although the levels of trihalomethanes in the water may occasionally exceed the standard, the standard is precautionary and the water is safe to drink,” Brenda Armstrong of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
According to Health Canada, trihalomethanes are a group of compounds that can form when chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water and mixes with organic matter.
Council agrees there is THM in the water, but says it is regularly tested.
“Like every town in Ontario, our water is monitored by the Ministry of the Environment,” says New Tecumseth deputy mayor James Smith. “At the present time, the water in Tottenham meets all the health and safety requirements that are imposed by them.”
Some studies have shown a link between THM and a wide range of health implications.
According to Health Canada, an animal study where mice were exposed to some THMs resulted in the development of liver and kidney tumours. The agency says there was inadequate evidence this would be the case for humans.
However, they say human tests have linked THM to colorectal cancers and reproductive complications.
“Human studies also suggest a link between reproductive effects and exposure to high levels of trihalomethanes,” the Health Canada website states. “However, an increase in the concentration of trihalomethanes could not be linked to an increase in risk, suggesting the need for more studies.”
Tottenham’s drinking water comes from a well. The town has a plan to construct a pipeline from Georgian Bay to Tottenham, but that project won’t be complete until at least 2020.
“People should not be worried about their health. It's still safe.”
New Tecumseth town council agreed this issue deserves immediate attention. Council will now schedule a special "working session" to specifically deal with this matter as soon as possible.