The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection yesterday found the Monongahela River to be contaminated with TDS, or Total Dissolved Solids. DEP officials say TDS is considered a "secondary contamination" and poses no imminent health risks to citizens who consume water drawn from the Mon. Though the water is not harmful, if may have a bad smell or a bad taste and the DEP is advising citizens to drink and cook with bottled water, instead.
Currently the DEP is investigating the source of the contamination. Acting Secretary John Hanger says water coming in from West Virginia already has high TDS levels. He says 40 percent of the problem is caused by brine discharge from oil and gas drilling, and sewer and water treatment plants. Acid mine drainage and the low water level in the Mon further exacerbates the situation. The DEP is now requiring that oil and gas drilling groups and water treatment plants reduce their amount of brine discharge by 90-95 percent.
Public Water suppliers affected by the contamination are: Pennsylvania-American Water Co., Aldrich Station and Brownsville Plant, Charleroi Municipal Authority, Belle Vernon Authority, Washinton Township Municipal Authority, Newell Municipal Authority, Tri-County Joint Municipal Authority, Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority, Carmichaels Municipal Authority, Masontown Water Works, East Dunkard Water Association, and the Dunkard Calley Joint Municipal Authority.