State News

Cary Families' Faucets Delivered Treated Wastewater

Posted July 25, 2007
Updated July 26, 2007

— Vinay Jain knew his tap water tasted funny, but he wouldn't have guessed his family had been drinking treated wastewater that is supposed to be used for watering lawns.

That turned out to be the case at his home, the discovery coming after workers shut off an irrigation pipe in Jain's neighborhood. His neighbors had tap water but couldn't get their sprinklers to work. Jain's sprinklers worked fine, but the taps inside his house ran dry.

It's unclear how the piping got switched.

About 500 homes in the town have irrigation systems served by reclaimed water. As a precaution, Cary officials were going house to house to check for similar problems.

Cary Public Works head Mike Bajorek said crews have found one other home in town in a similar situation.

Both families are being put up in hotels while their pipes are flushed with a powerful chlorine mixture, Bajorek said. The water will be tested to make sure it's safe to drink before the families are allowed to move back home, he said.

Jain, meanwhile, isn't pleased his family had a reversed connection for nearly five months.

"In a place like Cary, it never even occurred to me that this might even be a possibility," said Jain, 37. "This gives the impression of a Third World country."

State regulations ban water systems from using the treated wastewater for drinking water. Cary officials said the risks are low, and that someone must drink a lot of water in one sitting to get an infectious dose of coliform bacteria.

Still, Jain and his wife, Priyanka, said they are second-guessing their children's claims of stomachaches at dinner.


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  • Xscout577 Jul 27, 2007

    "I agree with PP. If these people thought their water was tasting or smelling funny, they could have picked up the phone and called someone. Or a visit to the Doctor if your kid is constantly complaigning of a stomach ache. The homeowners own some of the responsibility here."

    If there's ever any question about the quality of your drinking water, whether you're on well or City (County) water ...
    Water Test Kits are available, free of charge, at you County Health Department Office.

  • Xscout577 Jul 27, 2007

    "The Jains should sue, the city, builder, and plumber. That is the only way to make sure that mistakes like this do not happen again. If we hit people in their pockets, they will learn to be more careful."
    JennyT, I'm not saying that something shouldn't be done & somebody should be held accountable, but (and meaning no offense) your mentality, which seems to be shared by ALOT of people for everything that happens now a days, doesn't accomplish anything but put money in sombody's pocket ... especially the lawyers.
    If somebody sneezes the wrong way, thy're apt to be sued. Yes it was an unfortunate & DUMB mistake, but they need to find out FOR SURE what happened & how the error was made.
    "If we hit people in their pockets, they will learn to be more careful."
    Not meant towards you at all, JennyT, but personally, I'm sick of this mentality .. it doesn't solve anything.

  • Xscout577 Jul 27, 2007

    One more thing to add...
    The discharge of about 95% of all Wasterwater plants that go into a receiving stream or river is actually CLEANER than the water already in the stream or river.
    Nearly all Wastewater Operators are proud of the quality of effluent that we're putting back into the environment, but unfortunately due to the common public opinion of which is more important, Wastewater Treatment Facilties are always low on the totem pole as far as priority when it comes time for budgeting, pay & plant improvements. It's starting to get a little better, but we've got a ways to go. I will say this to the Apex residents ... the Town of Apex's Water Reclamation Facility is the nicest plant I've ever seen as far as the facility itself & the effluent that it puts out. Alot of this issue is blown out of proportion due to the Media. Yeah, somebody screwed up but the it's not as bad as it sounds. I promise, the family is NOT drinking toxic waste.

  • Xscout577 Jul 27, 2007

    Folks, let me say this ... Treated Wastewater is not as BAD as it sounds. True, drinking treated Effluent (treated discharge from a Wastewater Plant) isn't the most desirable thing to do, but it's not like deadly, toxic waste. It's been disinfected with Choromines or UV Light (we're getting away from using chlorine for the most part)& there is a very low limit for Fecal Coliform. Wastewater Plants either dischrge the Effluent to a receiving stream or river (and some re-use the effluent for irrigation as Cary does). The only difference between drinking "treated wastewater" or effluent & City Water that City water was ppulleed out of the same river & ran thru the Water Treatment Plant. Every city use drinking another city's discharge from UPstream (FACT of life).
    Take heart, though, because if a City, Town or individual certified Wastewater Operator(knowingly) isn't doing their job correctly there are monetary penalties & possible jail time. Can you say that about your job?

  • naturegirl Jul 26, 2007

    These were new homes built by Centex. Seems more likely that someone couldn't read the English directions on the construction drawings.

  • JennyT Jul 26, 2007

    speedy - "why ruin some poor plumbers life and Cary didn't hook up the pipes, why should they pay?"

    Mistakes like this could kill. What if one of those children was already sickly, or a small infant?

    The Jains should sue, the city, builder, and plumber. That is the only way to make sure that mistakes like this do not happen again. If we hit people in their pockets, they will learn to be more careful.

  • smegma Jul 26, 2007

    HAAAAAHAAAAAA!! where are all the wine drinkers in cary now? drinking sewage! LOL

  • lpf88 Jul 26, 2007

    Gives the impression of a third world country? Let's not be so melodramatic.

  • puckerup Jul 26, 2007

    seems like the town of cary did these folks a favor.

  • lizard Jul 26, 2007

    Takes away my thirst. I'll just go get me some bottled water.