DENMARK, SC (WIS) - Department of Health and Environmental Control officials want community members to know of the current status of Denmark’s water based on national criteria. Despite ongoing complaints about water quality, DHEC officials say the water is safe to drink, bathe in and cook with according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
For some background, DHEC explained to WIS-TV that back in 2008, Denmark requested permission to once again open up the Cox Mill Well for public water use. The well had been taken offline because of high levels of iron bacteria. DHEC required that the city show this problem had been fixed before they could begin reusing the well.
Denmark’s solution was to implement the chemical HaloSan – considered a pesticide because it’s used to kill bacteria.
DHEC officials also explained that while the EPA approves public drinking water through the Safe Drinking Water Act, the agency does not approve drinking water additives – chemicals added to public drinking water systems. That’s regulated by the American National Standards Institute and National Sanitation Foundation (ANSI/NSF), which had approved the chemical HaloSan.
In July 2018, some were beginning to question if HaloSan should still be registered through the EPA. At that time, the Cox Mill Well was again taken offline, and remains offline.
Still, some residents say it’s hard to accept that the water is safe when it’s cloudy or discolored on a regular basis.
Letitia Dowling is the founder of Denmark Cares, a coalition of residents seeking solutions to the city’s ongoing water issues. She says, “We know water is typically very clear. That’s an indication that it’s good water. What I’ve learned is with water, even when it looks discolored and even when it’s cloudy, those health factors don’t exist but it doesn’t look right. So, there are still some concerns that when people see this water – because everybody doesn’t know that, that because it doesn’t look right – I don’t think it’s safe and I don’t want to use it.”
According to DHEC, it’s the agency’s job to monitor the city’s drinking water quality. They say the system is routinely sampled for bacteria, metals, and chemicals but some Denmark residents say they’re still not convinced the water is safe. Many continue to offer bottled water drives, and there was a protest in January.
“As tax payers, because we do contribute to a public water system, I encourage all of those citizens to participate in the right conversations to get results to improve that system because it’s something that we have to pay for. Even when we stand and get that bottled water and it’s taking up all the space in our houses, you still have a water flowing from your faucets and in your house that you should have access to and that you should trust because we’re paying for it,” Dowling said.
To view the monitoring data for Denmark’s water, visit the website here.
If you would like to share concerns about water quality, contact the DHEC Regional Office in Orangeburg:
DHEC Orangeburg Regional Office
1550 Carolina Ave.
Orangeburg, SC 29116