Punta Gorda warns 13,000 customers of cancer-causing chemical in city water

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Running water. Credit: WINK News.

The City of Punta Gorda notified 13,000 utility customers Thursday in the city and the outskirts of Charlotte County they need to use bottled water because a cancer-causing chemical may be in the city water.

“I thought, ‘Holy cats,’” neighbor Elaine Tressler said.

Tressler said she was shocked to find the letter in her mailbox that Punta Gorda had sent out to tens of thousands like her in Charlotte County, warning her that city water running in her home could have cancer-causing contaminants.

“I drink water like crazy all day long,” Tressler said. “And I was like, ‘What?’”

A recent water sample from a site in the Punta Gorda historic district tested positive for higher levels of a chemical called trihalomethane (TTHM). The levels of trihalomethane exceeded Florida Department of Environmental Protection standards.

Drinking water over an extended period of time with high levels of TTHM could cause long-term liver or kidney issues or, in some cases, cancer.

“I think they should do further testing just to see how bad it really is or if it’s not that bad,” said Daniel Hallows in Charlotte County.

A follow-up test found the chemical levels to be much lower. The FDEP still requires the city to notify all users.

“It seems like they’d have to do something about it with that many people,” Hallows said.

Punta Gorda warns customers to drink bottled water or use a federally approved filter. And the water is being tested on a weekly basis at this time compared to the regular quarterly schedule.

“I think they’re on top of it,” Tressler said. “I really am.”

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