City of Pembroke Pines water does not meet standards of health department

'Our water is safe,' Pembroke Pines official insists

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health claims the water in the city of Pembroke Pines does not meet proper standards and is angered with city officials for not properly alerting residents.

During a late 2016 test, the water in Pembroke Pines was found to exceed the proper levels of Total Trihalomethane (TTHM).

TTHM is a chemical used to disinfect water for the purpose of drinking. Although higher doses of TTHM in a short period of time do not pose immediate health risks, prolonged exposure to the chemical over many years could lead to liver, kidney or nervous system issues.

Despite knowing for months about a water issue, the city has still not fixed the problem.

A Florida Department of Health representative told Local 10 News on Friday that the city water still does not meet proper standards.

“The water is currently not meeting the standards for disinfection byproducts," Florida Department of Health spokesman Bob LaMendola said in a statement. "A public water system is in violation of the MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) when the LRAA exceeds 0.080 mg/L, which is calculated based on four consecutive quarters of monitoring.”

On Feb. 23, the city sent a letter to residents claiming the water was safe to drink; however, the Broward County office of the Florida Department of Health said that letter was misleading, accusing the city of claiming the water was safe when it technically was not.

In the letter signed by Pembroke Pines Public Services Director Shawn Denton, the city said an independent laboratory contractor was short of personnel on the day of the original test and failed to properly conduct their work.

Denton's letter ended by saying, "Our water is safe."

The Department of Health also fined the city $2,250 earlier this month for its below-standards water quality.

"It is concerning because it's the last thing you would think about," resident Veronica Owen told Local 10 News.

City Commissioner Jay Schwartz said residents "should be proud of their water quality." He blamed the result on a recent sample after an annual scheduled water treatment.

"Proper procedures for testing were not followed, which caused a skewed result," Schwartz said.

Department of Health guidelines state that there is no need to boil water, but anyone with a severely compromised immune system, as well as pregnant women and babies, should consult a physician before drinking tap water in the city.

"We'll feel better once we get a letter that says, 'The water has been tested. It's safe to drink,'" Owen said.

About the Authors:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.