Water’s Sodium Levels Could Be Cause For Concern

BERLIN – Recently released 2007 water quality reports for two major and two smaller Worcester County service areas show low levels of contaminants and enough sodium to concern those on low-salt regimens.

Ocean Pines, Mystic Harbour, Assateague Pointe and Edgewater Acres/Nantucket Point service areas all showed sodium levels at least double that recommended for people on salt-restricted diets.

Medical advice calls for salt-restricted patients to drink water with less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of sodium.

Ocean Pines water has 101 ppm of sodium, as does Assateague Pointe. Mystic Harbour water contains 97.5 ppm of sodium, while Edgewater Acres/Nantucket Point contains 48.4.

Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. The water reports advise those on reduced salt diets to consult their own physicians about the sodium levels in their drinking water.

“The salt level is naturally occurring,” said John Ross, deputy administrative director of Public Works, except in the Assateague Pointe system, where the salt levels could have been increased slightly by byproducts from water softening.

Salt is not considered a primary contaminant and there are no standardized state or federal limits.

“It’s not like pesticides, where if you drink it, it’s going to kill you,” Ross said.

Drinking water reports on Newark, Riddle Farm, Briddelltown, and the Landings service areas have not been posted online at the Worcester County Commissioners website. All reports are complete and ready to be mailed out to users, except Briddelltown, which is supplied with water by the town of Berlin. The county is waiting for the town to finalize its numbers.

All water customers in Worcester County’s water service areas will get a water report in the next few weeks. Reports usually arrive by the beginning of July, but they have been somewhat delayed this year, according to Ross.

While Ocean Pines water testing revealed small amounts of 10 contaminants, all below federally established standards, the large community water system also showed radon in three out of five wells.

“There is no federal regulation for radon levels in drinking water. Exposure to air-transmitted radon over a long period of time may cause adverse health effects,” a footnote to the Ocean Pines report reads.

Radon leaches into aquifers from natural deposits in the main, with some from man-made deposits.

“A little bit of it shows up every year when we’re doing testing,” said Ross. “It’s all naturally occurring. It’s extremely low levels.”

As testing methods improve, staff is able to test for tinier and tinier amounts of a substance. Finding trace amounts does not mean, said Ross, that a substance is present at harmful levels.

Ocean Pines’ water also contains trace amounts of copper, lead, nitrates, barium, and chromium, as well as byproducts of drinking water disinfection.

Mystic Harbour water is host to 12 similar contaminants, all at low levels, as is Assateague Pointe with eight.

Edgewater Acres/Nantucket Point has traces of 16 regulated contaminants, and 19 unregulated. Water for this service area is purchased from Delaware.

Delaware’s section of the system showed two instances of coliform bacteria, but subsequent re-samples were negative. The Maryland portion showed none.

“None of [the reports] show anything unusual,” Ross said.

Worcester County Public Works files water reports monthly with the state of Maryland.

“We’d certainly pick something up before it even got to this point,” said Ross. “The sodium issue, we certainly watch that.”