Municipal water customers within the city limits of Commerce don't have to worry about the high nitrite levels reported in water delivered by the North Hunt Special Utility District, according to a district spkesperson. That's because Commerce residents get their water from the City of Commerce, not the North Hunt SUD.
The North Hunt SUD is a rural water provider that serves customers who live near, but outside, the city limits of Commerce, Wolfe City and Ladonia.
The area where high nitrite levels have been reported are west and southwest of the Commerce city limits.
According to North Hunt SUD spokesperson Stacey Nicholson, the areas of concern are along CR 4511 (west of Commerce), along CR 2874 (west of Commerce) and along CR 4400 (southwest of Commerce).
The nitrite levels currently reported are considered unsafe for infants younger than six months. If infants younger than six months drink water with high nitrite levels, possible harmful results include shortness of breath, "blue baby syndrome," and in extreme cases, death if the child is not given medial treatment.
The water is considered safe for children older than six months and for adults. However, a statement from the utility district cautioned that the effects of such water on fetuses is unknown, and that pregnant women might wish to avoid the water as a precaution.
Because nitrite levels are a chemical issue and not an organic contaminant, boiling water has no effect, and is not a safety measure.
The presence of high nitrite levels in drinking water typically results from the presence of liquids or solids from nitrogen-rich fertilizer affecting the water supply, Nicholson said.
However, Nicholson said that the cause of this particular instance of high nitrite levels is undetermined.
"We don't know why this is occurring," Nicholson said.
City of Commerce water has been tested and did not show high nitrite levels, Nicholson said. North Hunt SUD purchases water from the City of Commerce, so whatever is happening to the water appears to be occurring after it enters North Hunt SUD's systems, she said.
North Hunt SUD customers who are unsure whether their water is in the area of concern can contact the district at 903-886-3458.