Moroni City warns residents about problems with drinking water
By Suzanne Dean
MORONI—As of Friday, a directive from Moroni City telling parents not to give tap water to infants 6 months or younger was still in effect.
The city issued the order last Wednesday, Feb. 26, after an unexpected shutdown of one of the city’s two wells resulted in nitrates in the town’s culinary water going above limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The town ordered 10 pallets of bottled water and was handing the water out at the city hall, 80 S. 200 West, by Thursday morning.
A statement posted on the city website, on the door of city hall, and being handed out to visitors to city hall said city workers were working around the clock to try to get the well running again.
Once the well was back on line, the statement said, water would be tested to make sure it met state and federal health standards before the order against giving it to babies under 6 months was lifted.
The high nitrate level won’t hurt adults and children older than 12 months, the statement said. But infants under 6 months “can’t process nitrates in the same way adults can.”
If babies younger than 6 months drink Moroni tap water, or drink formula or juice made from tap water, they “could become seriously ill, and if untreated, may die,” according to the city statement. Symptoms include shortness of breath and “blue baby” syndrome.
The city statement noted that nitrates come from natural, agricultural and industrial sources. Nearly all cities in Sanpete County have nitrates in their water. The significant thing is the concentration of nitrates. The EPA limit is 10 parts per million (PPM). For example, 10 gallons of nitrates would be acceptable in 1 million gallons of water.
Mayor Paul Bailey of Moroni was out of the country when the problem came up. The Messenger was told any questions about what caused the well failure or what specific actions the city was taking to fix the well would have to wait until Bailey was back in town Monday.
However, at a city council meeting Jan. 16, Bailey said the older of the two city wells, drilled in 1968, produced water that was over the 10 PPM limit. Water coming from the newer well has less than 1 PPM of nitrates. The only way Moroni meets the standard is by putting water from both sources into its water tanks. When water from the two sources mixes, nitrates drop to a safe 2 PPM.
It seemed safe to assume that the shutdown was in the newer well, leaving the city with water from the high-nitrate well only.