Jul 30, 2004

Clarksdale, Miss., Officials Search for Source of Copper in Treated Water

In northwest Mississippi, Clarksdale Public Utilities officials are searching for the source of high levels of copper coming out of their treatment plant. Water released from the plant is sent into the Sunflower River.
CPU general manager Bob Priest told The Associated Press that samples are being taken from different locations around the city three times a week, in an effort to find the source of the copper.
New federal regulations require water discharged from the plant to contain no more than 10 parts of copper per billion. However, the utility is finding levels of up to 50 parts per billion, Priest said.
He said the new regulations were made because some small aquatic life cannot live in water with high amounts of copper.
If the treatment plant continues to have the problem, Priest said his utility could start paying penalties beginning next year.
The copper could be coming from a variety of sources, such as someone scraping the metal off a copper pan while cleaning. He said it also could come from welding rods.
An environmental engineer reportedly is working with the utility on the problem.