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BREAKING: Philipsburg violates water contaminant levels

From the Town of Philipsburg website posted August 31, 2023 (LINK)


The Town of Philipsburg has violated drinking water standards. Although this is not an emergency, as our customer you have a right to know what happened, what you should do, and what we are doing to correct this situation occurring in our drinking water.

We are required to monitor your drinking water for specific contaminants on a regular basis. The Stage-2 Disinfection Byproducts Rule maximum contaminant level for Haloacetic Acids (HAA5) is 60 µg/L. Test results show that our system exceeds the maximum contaminant levels for HAA5. The level of HAA5 averaged at our system’s sampling location for the monitoring period between July 1 through September 30, 2023, was 70 µg/L.

What does this mean?

This is not an emergency. If it had been you would have been notified immediately. HAA5 are five haloacetic acid compounds which form when disinfectants react with natural organic matter in the water. People who drink water containing HAA5 in excess of the MCL over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

What should I do?

Customers should not boil their water and it is not necessary to use an alternate water source. However, if you have specific health concerns, please contact your health care professional.


Almost all municipal water systems engage in two levels of treatment. One is some form of filtration and the other is a method of disinfection. For decades the Town held a filtration waiver which allowed us to operate the system focusing on disinfection exclusively. The Town currently has two methods that are used for disinfection. One is gas chlorine, and the other is ultra-violet light.

The Town recently received a letter from the Department of Environmental Quality indicating that they are rescinding our filtration waiver. The reason is stated plainly in this mailing.

Disinfection ByProducts (DBPs) form when organics in water interact with disinfectants. We are currently in the process of running pilot studies to evaluate the effectiveness of filtration in removing organics before they come into contact with disinfectants. These studies will show us if filtration is effective in removing organics from the water and therefore help lower DBP concentrations.

1. Observing the trends over the last year, the Town decided to begin the process of trying to get ahead of this eventuality. In doing so the Town commissioned a pilot test to examine a new state of the art nano-filtration material to see if it might be applicable to our emerging situation. The testing began this past June and will run into late autumn. Some of the preliminary results look promising.

2. Seventy-five to eighty percent of Town water emanates from the Fred Burr Lake, sitting up in elevation seven miles above Town. The other twenty to twenty five percent of Town water originates from Silver Springs. These two sources are blended to deliver the finished product. Given that it is likely the disinfection by-products are being generated by the lake water, the Town will be purchasing new variable speed pumps located at Silver Springs in order to increase the percentage of spring water used in the blend and decrease the amount of lake water. It is our expectation that this could help address the problem.

3. In addition to these actions, the Town will also be engaged in contracting to produce a Preliminary Engineering Report to examine the main Fred Burr transmission line. Part of this examination would be to identify and replace sections of the line that are most compromised and could also possibly contribute to the problem.

The Town takes its responsibility to produce safe and clean drinking water as its highest priority and will act accordingly.

Town of Philipsburg

(406) 859-3821

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water especially those who may not have received this notice directly. You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

PWS ID: MT0000304 Date Distributed: August 31, 2023

Method Used to Distribute: US Postal Service and hard copy posting at public locations.


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