Water Quality in Savannah, Georgia


Water plays a central role in the sustenance of any form of life, which underscores its importance in the current world. However, water could also be a source of life-threatening health conditions if not handled carefully. The present levels of pollution aggravate the situation because thousands of chemicals and other pollutants can easily find their way into water systems. In Savannah, Georgia, the City of Savannah Water Supply and Treatment Department conducts numerous annual tests to ensure that drinking water in the region is safe for human consumption. This paper is an analysis of the 2018 City of Savannah Water Quality Report.

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Report Findings

In 2018, the City of Savannah Water Supply and Treatment Department announced that drinking water in the region was safe. The Savannah Main System supplies drinking water to the city drawn from the Floridian Aquifer with 22 wells, and in 2018, it pumped over 17.28 million gallons of water to serve 143,010 residents (Savannah Public Works & Water Resources, 2018). In the process of compiling this report, the City of Savannah Water Laboratory conducted over 123,000 water tests using around 160 water quality parameters (Savannah Public Works & Water Resources, 2018).

From the analysis, different substances were tested and detected in drinking water, but they were all within the maximum contaminant levels allowed for safe human consumption. The detected substances included chlorine, fluoride, total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), total haloacetic acids (THAAs), total coliform bacteria, lead, and copper. Other substances analyzed in the report include molybdenum, strontium, hexavalent chromium, and chromium. However, according to Sawyer (2018), these substances are classified under unregulated contaminants because the EPA has not set drinking water standards for the same. The following levels of the tested substances and the corresponding maximum contaminant levels allowed were recorded in the report.

Substance Chlorine Fluoride TTHMs THAAs Coliform
Lead Copper
2.19 ppm 1.4 ppm 16.9 ppb 3.4 ppb 1.54% of
monthly samples
2.0 ppb 0.046 ppm
Maximum contaminant level accepted N/A 4 ppm 80 ppb 60 ppb 5% of monthly samples N/A N/A
Maximum contaminant level goal N/A 4 ppm 0 ppb 0 ppb 0 % of monthly samples 0 ppb 1.3 ppm

Table 1: Part of 2018 Savannah Water Quality Report.

However, despite the tested substances being within the accepted drinking water standards, the goal of having pure drinking water has not been realized.

Water Quality Issue

From the above table, TTHMs are some of the water quality issues being experienced in the local community in Savannah, Georgia. According to Cutrovo and Amato (2019), TTHMs are compounds formed when natural organic matter in water reacts with chlorine that is normally used in the treatment of drinking water. While the amount detected (16.9 ppb) is within the maximum accepted level (80 ppb), the goal of achieving 0 ppb of this substance has not been achieved (Savannah Public Works & Water Resources, 2018). The common forms of TTHMs include bromodichloromethane (BDCM), trichloromethane (TCM), also known as chloroform, and dibromochloromethane (DBCM). Apart from being formed from the reaction of chlorine and natural organic matter in water, some TTHMs come from industrial usage. For example, chloroform can enter the environment through wastewater from sewage treatment and industrial discharge from paper mills and chemical companies.

Environmental and Human Health Impacts

Contaminants found in drinking water could lead to serious health complications. A study by Evans, Campbell, and Naidenko (2019) found that water contamination by chemical pollutants was linked to over 100,000 cancer cases across the US between 2010 and 2017. Even though such incidence rate is low, it is significant given that sufficient data on the subject lacks in the literature. Therefore, as more studies are conducted on the subject, the numbers are expected to rise. Cutrovo and Amato (2019) different studies have associated TTHM exposure to the bladder, rectal, and colon cancers. The environment is also affected in the process of water treatment. The machines used in the treatment plants are a potential source of greenhouse gases, thus adding to the current carbon footprint. Prolonged bioaccumulation of TTHMs also affects marine ecosystems by changing water pH levels, thus making the environment unfavorable for habitation.

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Management Practices to Minimize Water Pollution

Eliminating TTHMs from drinking water might be a complicated issue as long as chlorine is used in the treatment process. However, the levels could be minimized by using biological activated carbon filters (Lou, Chan, Han, &Yang, 2016). Another option is to eliminate or reduce the levels of chlorination before filters. Alternative disinfectants, such as peroxide, could be used for treatment instead of chlorine. Pollution from industrial sources could be reduced through proper disposal, efficient wastewater treatment, recycling, and reuse (Safe Drinking Water Foundation, 2019).


The 2018 City of Savannah Water Quality Report showed that drinking water in the region was safe for human consumption. However, several substances were found in the water, but they were within acceptable levels. TTHMs are some of the water problems affecting communities in Savannah, Georgia, and other places across the US. These chemicals have been associated with different cancer types, and they affect marine ecosystems and plant life. Pollution could be minimized by using bio-activated carbon filters, substituting chlorine with other alternatives, and proper handling of industrial waste.


Cutrovo, J. A., & Amato, H. (2019). Trihalomethanes: Concentrations, cancer risks, and regulations. Journal of American Water Works Association, 111(1), 12-20.

Evans, S., Campbell, S., & Naidenko, O. (2019). Cumulative risk analysis of carcinogenic contaminants in United States drinking water. Heliyon, 5, 1-9. Web.

Lou, J. -C., Chan, H.-Y., Han, J. -Y., & Yang, C. -Y. (2016). High removal of haloacetic acids from treated drinking water using bio-activated carbon method. Desalination and Water Treatment, 57(53), 25627-25638.

Safe Drinking Water Foundation. (2019). Industrial waste fact sheet. Web.

Savannah Public Works & Water Resources. (2018). 2018 City of Savannah Water Quality Report. Web.

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Sawyer, J. (2018). City of Savannah 2018 Water Quality Report. Web.

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