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2005 Environmental Water News


December, 2005

Systems to remove C8 from Ohio village's water may be ready in two months
A village administrator in southeast Ohio says he is hopeful that by the end of February a chemical used to produce Teflon at a nearby DuPont Co. plant won't show up in the community's water supply. Pomeroy's treatment plant is expected to be the first of six water districts in Ohio and West Virginia where carbon filters will remove ammonium perfluorooctanoate, also known as C8, from water drawn from the village's wells. While DuPont maintains C8 poses no human health threat, it agreed last year to update the water treatment plants to settle a 2001 class-action lawsuit filed by residents who claimed the chemical, released from the company's plant near Parkersburg, W.Va., contaminated drinking water. The court settlement also required DuPont to finance a health screening and study for up to 80,000 residents who receive their drinking water from the six districts. AP/Beacon Journal_ 12/27/05

Tennessee town didn't warn residents not to drink 'pink' water

City of La Vergne was warned last Wednesday by state water quality officials to advise its customers not to drink the pink-tinted water the city accidentally distributed that day. This was despite press releases and statements to customers that were issued by town officials saying the water was "harmless." Angie Mayes, La Vergne's spokeswoman, issued an advisory about the leak, saying the water was "harmless," per instructions from Ronnie Weaver, the director of La Vergne's Water Treatment Plant. Mayes did not issue a clarification once Weaver was told by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation that the town could not say it was "harmless" until it was tested. Mayes said Weaver never gave her the new information and Weaver acknowledged that to The Daily News Journal. Daily News Journal_ 12/22/05

More than 140 contaminants with no enforceable safety limits found in U.S. drinking water

Tap water in 42 states is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards, according to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) two-and-a-half year investigation of water suppliers' tests of the treated tap water served to communities across the country. In an analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests, most of which were required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, EWG found that water suppliers across the U.S. detected 260 contaminants in water served to the public. One hundred forty-one (141) of these detected chemicals — more than half — are unregulated; public health officials have not set safety standards for these chemicals, even though millions drink them every day. Environmental Working Group press release_ 12/20/05

Tests show too much uranium in Nebraska water

As many as 26 cities, towns and villages in the state have drinking water with high levels of uranium, according to Nebraska Health and Human Services. High levels increase the risk of kidney failure and cancer, the Environmental Protection Agency said. It's considered safe to drink contaminated water for one to two years as long as test readings are 60 parts per billion or lower, said Sue Dempsey, the health risk assessor for Nebraska Health and Human Services. If a reading is higher than 60, people should drink treated or bottled water, she said. Deposits from glaciers and volcanic ash make uranium a naturally occurring mineral statewide. Its highest concentrations are found in current or past river valleys where water carried the mineral. However, uranium removal can be costly. McCook, one of the largest cities facing the problem, may have to spend $1 million for water treatment. AP/Omaha World-Herald_ 12/19/05 (logon required)

Long-awaited EPA rules ban reservoirs as tap water source; It will cost Los Angeles, California billions of dollars and change the way the city stores and distributes water

The new rules, which tighten standards for disinfection byproducts, are expected to cause about 70% of the nation's water systems to change their treatment methods, either by using less chlorine or by switching to methods that don't rely on chlorine. The byproducts, which are suspected carcinogens, are formed when chlorine and other disinfectants combine with naturally occurring organic matter in the water. Los Angeles operates the largest open-reservoir system of treated water in the country, dating to the 1920s. Four of the 10 open reservoirs are no longer being used for drinking supplies and will be kept filled with untreated water for emergency use, such as firefighting. The fate of the remaining six is being worked out with local communities. To make up for the lost reservoir storage, the city is building underground tanks, installing larger-capacity distribution pipes and routing water directly from its main treatment plant in Sylmar to customers. All told, the work will cost an estimated $3.5 billion. Los Angeles Times_ 12/16/05 (logon required)

Questions over UK toxic water tests
A coroner and a former government minister have called for more research to be carried out on people who drank contaminated water 17 years ago. It follows the results of a post mortem examination on 59-year-old Carole Cross which found abnormally high levels of aluminium in her brain. She drank water in the Cornish town of Camelford which was contaminated with aluminium sulphate in 1988. Mrs Cross died from beta amyloid angiopathy, a form of cerebrovascular disease usually associated with Alzheimer's disease. About 20,000 people were affected by the incident. Hundreds complained they became ill after the incident, citing a range of ailments, including chest pains, skin rashes, sickness, brain damage, memory loss and joint problems. In 1989 a government report stated there should be no long term effects from drinking the contaminated water. However, a second official report in 1991 said there could be unforeseen late consequences. In January this year, another official report said it could find no conclusive link between the poisoning and people's illnesses. BBC News_ 12/15/05

Zogby poll: U.S. public worried about mercury in drinking water; 81% want  mercury-free water treatment programs, 65% seek immediate Congressional action

More than half of adults nationwide (54%) are highly concerned about accidental mercury contamination of their hometown water supplies, and nearly two-thirds (65%) want Congress to act immediately to ensure that mercury-free water treatment technologies are included in implementation guidelines for new EPA water treatment rules scheduled to be published on December 15. The National Academy of Sciences has found that consumption of mercury by pregnant women can cause serious neuro-developmental harm in the fetus, and the EPA, the Food and Drug Administration and 44 states have warned the public regarding consumption of mercury. Despite those warnings, the new EPA rules will provide guidelines to U.S. water systems on application of technology that relies on mercury-based ultraviolet light (UV) lamps to disinfect drinking water supplies. The EPA is currently testing new mercury-free UV alternatives, and the surveys find that nearly eight-in-ten (79%) of Americans want the EPA to complete that testing and include the alternatives before implementing the new rules. Press Release_ 12/12/05

November, 2005

Raisin City, California to get mandatory water hookups, most town wells contaminated

Fresno County officials recently received nearly $800,000 in state and federal grants to install a new public water system in Raisin City to eliminate the town's reliance on private water wells. The Environmental Justice Coalition for Water highlighted Raisin City's poor water quality in the "Thirsty for Justice" report. Tests done in 2001 showed that most of the private wells in Raisin City contain unsafe levels of carcinogens, such as uranium and the pesticide dibromochloropropane, or DBCP. Officials estimate there are about 80 wells in the town. Fresno Bee_ 11/27/05 (logon required)

Olin Corp. looks to cork water delivery to some California residents with perchlorate-contaminated wells

The Olin Corp. has applied to stop bottled water delivery to the users of 78 perchlorate-contaminated wells in San Martin. The application follows a finding made earlier this year by the State Water Resources Control Board that the company need not provide water to residents whose wells test at or below 6 parts per billion, the state's public health goal for the contaminant. Perchlorate is a by-product of rocket fuel and road flares shown in some tests to disrupt thyroid function. Since 2002, Olin has been providing water to residents whose wells test as low as 2 to 4 parts per billion, at the direction of the Central Coast Regional Water Control Board. The application is expected to be the first of several Olin makes to cease water deliveries. Gilroy Dispatch_ 11/22/05

California officials warn of cascading costs to restore state's 'impaired' sites

California's list of polluted streams, lakes and beaches continues to grow, prompting water experts to warn that the contamination will cost taxpayers billions of dollars to clean up. In Southern California, water quality could be restored in several decades if every household were to pay an additional $4 to $5 per month, said John Robertus, executive officer of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board.  The report, issued by the Water Resources Control Board, includes 825 "impaired" water bodies in California – an increase of 40 percent from 2003.  San Diego Union_11/18/05

Jacksonville and others pursue funding for St. Johns River cleanup
The city of Jacksonville, the St. Johns River Water Management District and the state appropriations committee may jointly fund an effort to increase water treatment and the use of reclaimed water. That would help limit the amount of waste water dumped into the St. Johns River and conserve drinking water, experts say. Reclaimed water is waste, or sewage, water that is highly treated and can be used for most purposes other than drinking.  That could help three important entities in Northeast Florida: the St. Johns River, drinking water users and irrigation users, said Michael Slayton, deputy executive director of the water management district.  Jacksonville Business Journal_11/17/05

Canada's Native water crisis known for years: watchdog

Boil-water advisories common
A federal commissioner says Ottawa has known about the sorry state of drinking water in aboriginal communities for years. Johanne Gelinas, commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, told a Commons committee that Health Canada and Indian Affairs have been well aware of situations like that in Kashechewan, Ont. Gelinas told the aboriginal affairs committee that some native communities have been under boil-water advisories for years.  E. coli in Kashechewan's drinking water touched off an emergency evacuation last month and billions of dollars in promised native relief money from Ottawa.  CNews_11/17/05

Excess water bad for kidneys
Drinking too much water can flush proteins from the body: study

Serious kidney damage shown by more than 200 residents of Walkerton, Ontario Canada is the result of drinking too much water, not of E. coli poisoning, and it's a problem that could be afflicting people across the country, researchers say.  The "completely preventable" condition is one of the findings of a long-term health study into the tainted-water tragedy of Walkerton, a lead researcher from London said yesterday.  Results of the four-year study, to be presented in Walkerton this evening, show five per cent of the 4,400 residents enrolled have high urine volumes with pathological levels of protein.  Careful checking found the condition unrelated to E. coli-contaminated water that killed seven people and sickened 2,500 others in May 2000.  Research head Bill Clark said the condition was linked to residents drinking too much water -- a problem that is not exclusive to the Ontario farming community.  London Free Press_11/17/05

Climate models help scientists understand global shifts in water availability
In an article titled, "Global pattern of trends in streamflow and water availability in a changing climate," to be published Thursday,  November 17, in the journal Nature, USGS scienists examine water-availability projections of climate models. The scientists discovered that climate models are useful for simulating regional historical long-term trends in streamflow around the world.  And what do the models show about the future? The models predict 10 to 40 percent increases in runoff in eastern equatorial Africa, the La Plata basin and high latitude North America and Eurasia by the year 2050. They also predict 10 to 30 percent decreases in runoff in southern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and mid-latitude western North America by the year 2050.  Press Release_11/16/05

Pennsylvania Legionnaires' cases linked to retirement community's drinking water

Preliminary test results from a consultant have linked cases of Legionnaires' disease at a Franconia Township retirement community to drinking water in the main building, officials said. Colleen Hart, spokeswoman for the Peter Becker Community, where three elderly residents and a volunteer have been diagnosed with the disease, said the community, which is home to about 350 people, is keeping a close watch for symptoms, which can show up within two to 10 days of exposure. Hart said the residents - all women, aged 94, 85 and 74 - had fully recovered. The preliminary results Monday were from consulting firm Legionella Risk Management. County tests had not been completed, said Harriet Morton, a spokeswoman for the county health department. Legionnaires' disease often spreads through inhalation of mist from contaminated water. The very young and the very old are most susceptible, and 5 percent to 30 percent of cases are fatal. AP/Phillyburbs.com_ 11/15/05

New Mexico puts drinking water database on Web

The New Mexico Environment Department plans to make available online the test results from all public drinking water systems in the state. Searchable by county or by the drinking water system name or number, the primary water source type and other parameters, the state database will archive test results for every drinking water contaminant measured since 1993. NMED will update it every two weeks. New Mexico Business Weekly_ 11/14/05

Stubborn coliform persists in Holliston, Massachusetts water supply

Since Nov. 4, officials have said residents and businesses must boil water for one minute before consuming water, including drinking it, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food. Water quality test results received by the town yesterday showed the presence of total coliform in four of the 27 samples collected on Saturday and in one of two samples collected late Friday. Total coliform bacteria indicates other harmful organisms -- E. coli -- could be in the water. MetroWest Daily News_ 11/14/05

Investigative Report: The first installment in a series investigating water quality in Northern New Mexico and the efforts that are being undertaken to improve it.

Like a number of waterbodies throughout Northern New Mexico, three of the creeks that flow into Eagle Nest Lake — Cieneguilla, Six–Mile and Moreno — do not meet state water quality standards. Increasing development in Angel Fire in recent years has exacerbated the problem in Cieneguilla Creek in particular. The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) expanded two key studies that included Cieneguilla Creek in January, 2004. The documents attempt to assess the levels of four indicators that can degrade the quality of a water body — fecal coliform, turbidity, stream bottom deposits and total phosphorus — and set a target level for bringing the water back in line with standards, what’s known under the Clean Water Act as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The most immediate concern to human health is the high level of fecal coliform bacteria sometimes found in the creek. Sangre de Cristo Chronicle_ 11/10/05

Illinois well owners urged to test water

People often associate well water with rural areas, but a new Illinois EPA analysis expected to be released today found most of the state's estimated 400,000 private wells are in the Chicago suburbs.  State environmental and health agencies are kicking off a campaign today to encourage everyone who gets their drinking water from private wells to have that water tested for possible contaminants. The campaign includes a new Web site,, that explains which pollutants to look for and lists accredited labs offering discounts on water tests this month. Chicago Sun Times_11/10/05

Is your water system ready for the JAN. 26 arsenic rule deadline?

Around the US, many public water systems are scrambling to meet the Jan. 23, 2006, compliance deadline for the new federal 10 ppb limit for arsenic in drinking water (down from 50 ppb). Others are applying for exemptions to delay compliance, or simply haven't yet begun to seriously address the issue. EPA doesn't appear to be keeping a close eye on the compliance situation — so expect delays in meeting this standard.  EPA estimates that about 3,000 community water systems across the country must take steps to meet the new standard. Does your local water utility have an arsenic problem, and will it meet the compliance deadline?  To find out whether your local water utility has an arsenic problem, check out its most recent "Consumer Confidence Report" (CCR) — a federally mandated annual report mailed out to all customers on the system, detailing the measured levels of contaminants (including arsenic) and other issues. The most recent report, released this year, will offer 2004 data. If the maximum level detected for 2004 is near or above 10 ppb (10 µg/L), it's time to make some phone calls.  Many water utilities publish their CCRs online. If yours is not online, call the utility and ask them to e-mail or fax you a copy. Make sure you ask for the most recent (2005) report, containing 2004 data.  Tipsheet_11/9/05

EPA celebrates World Water Monitoring Day in New England

Water monitoring by volunteer groups provides important data that is used by all New England states and EPA in assessing water quality conditions of lakes, rivers, coastal waterways and estuaries. Groups that are involved in water quality monitoring have been successful in raising awareness of local water quality problems often due to failing septic systems, illicit discharges of sanitary sewerage, and stormwater runoff.  “World Water Monitoring Day offers a unique opportunity for citizens to think globally and act locally by helping those charged with protecting our water with useful information about water quality,” said Michael Kenyon, Director of EPA’s New England Regional Laboratory. “And now, EPA is helping fund local groups by initiating an equipment loan program to further support these efforts.” Also in recognition of World Water Monitoring Day, EPA has begun a program to loan water monitoring equipment to citizen groups in New England so that others can participate and help collect water quality data. The equipment will assist citizen groups as they seek to expand and improve water quality data collection. The long-term loan program will be available to qualified groups this winter. The equipment loan program will also help states in their efforts to expand participation of citizens in gathering important data about surface waters, by encouraging students and citizens to become stewards of their local waterways. It is critical for environmental agencies to take advantage of environmental data generated by others in order to help provide information about the effectiveness of water protection efforts. Press Release_10/20/05

Pennsylvania's public water systems face January 2006 compliance date for new federal arsenic standards

New federal drinking water standards designed to lower the levels of arsenic in drinking water, take effect Jan. 23, 2006, for Pennsylvania's public water systems, Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said today. The federal law lowers the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for arsenic from 0.050 milligrams per liter (mg/L), or 50 parts per billion, to 0.010 mg/L, or 10 parts per billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted the new standard for arsenic in drinking water Jan. 22, 2001. The rule became effective Feb. 22, 2002. The date by which systems must begin complying with the new standard is Jan. 23, 2006. Some studies have linked long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic in drinking water to cancer of the bladder and lungs. Press Release_ 10/17/05

Salina, Kansas tackles underground plume of contaminated water inching toward public well

City leaders recently discovered the plume originating from the site of a company that fumigated area grain elevators 35 years ago. Martha Tasker, Salina's utilities director, said their tests showed none of the contamination had gotten into the city's wells. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, beginning Oct. 24, plans to start removing about 180 cubic yards of contaminated soil and then state environmental officials will install equipment to remove contamination from the groundwater. Tests indicate the plume contains dangerous levels of two chemicals, carbon tetrachloride and 1,2, dichloro-ethane, also called DCA. Both chemicals are often used in grain fumigants and pesticide. State officials said the safe limit for carbon tetrachloride in drinking water is five parts per billion but that the plume contains 550,000 parts per billion. As for DCA, the safe level is 100 parts per billion but the plume contains 1.7 million parts per billion. AP/Kansas City Star_ 10/16/05 (logon required)

EPA gives New York City more time on new water plant
The Environmental Protection Agency is giving New York City an extra year to build an ultraviolet light disinfection plant for drinking water in the Westchester County community of Mount Pleasant. The plant was to be operating by the summer of 2009, but design and engineering delays have pushed that date back, federal officials said. The federal government required the city to build the disinfection plant instead of a much costlier plant that would have filtered impurities out of water from the Catskill and Delaware reservoirs. While exposing water to ultraviolet light is not as effective as filtering, it renders microorganisms like giardia, which can cause intestinal illness, harmless. To mitigate the impact of the construction delay, the city agreed to spend an additional $6 million to upgrade wastewater treatment plants in the watershed. New York Times_ 10/13/05 (logon required)

EU ready to take plunge on cleaner bathing water
The European Union cleared the last political hurdle on Wednesday for cleaning up Europe's beaches and raising standards for bathing water, officials said.  Debate on the EU's so-called bathing water directive and how to tighten water pollution checks has rumbled on for years, with regular rows between member states and the European Parliament.  Now, all sides have reached a political agreement which they will have to adopt in the weeks ahead, usually a formality.  EU governments would have to incorporate the new rules into their own national laws within two years.  The directive, which updates a 1976 law, aims to ensure that coastal and inland waters commonly used for bathing do not contain contamination at levels that could pose a health risk.  Water quality will be divided into three categories -- "excellent", "good" and "sufficient". EU governments will have to ensure that all bathing waters achieve at least "sufficient" status by the end of the 2015 bathing season.  Reuters_10/12/05

Chemical in Michigan city's water

DDT byproduct identified

Low levels of a chemical compound that was tested for the first time this year has shown up in the city of St. Louis, Michigan drinking water. "EPA tells us that this chemical is not a hazardous substance and that our water is still safe to drink and use,“ Mayor George Kubin said in a letter notifying water users sent over the weekend.

This year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ran test samples at the city's six water wells and found parachlorobenzene sulfonic acid, or p-CBSA, in three of them. This byproduct is associated with the production of the pesticide DDT at the former chemical plant sites in St. Louis. The Morning Sun_10/11/05

California court: Start over on CALFED, southbound water flows should have been studied

CALFED, the 5-year-old program that was designed to solve the California's water battles, should be almost entirely frozen and restudied because its founding environmental documents didn't adequately study whether less water should be sucked from the Delta and sent south, according to a state appeals court decision released late Friday. The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that those water export studies should have been done before state and federal authorities implemented CALFED, a joint effort authorized in 2000 to stop the long-running legal battles over how to use the state's limited water supply. The Record_ 10/8/05

Legionnaires' disease can lurk in buildings' water, air-conditioning systems
Legionnaires' disease, the respiratory illness believed to be responsible for the death of 16 Toronto nursing home residents, is caused by water-borne bacteria that can turn contaminated shower systems, hot tubs and large air-conditioning systems into instruments of infection.  Legionnaires' disease is not spread person-to-person, but only through exposure to legionella bacteria in vaporized water droplets, said Dr. Matthew Moore, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.  "Legionella is a bacterium that is found throughout fresh water environments, and outbreaks of legionnaires' disease have occurred after persons have breathed in mists from a water source, such as showers or air-conditioning cooling towers or whirlpool spas," Moore said Thursday from Atlanta.  "Legionella is really ubiquitous in the environment," he said. "In fact, we are probably all being exposed every day. It's just that in order to actually acquire the illness one needs to be exposed to a large enough quantity of the bacteria and one needs to have, typically, some kind of underlying illness to make them more susceptible."  Canadian Press_10/6/05

Water board lists dirty rivers

Two California rivers make the 'cut'

Parts of the Tuolumne and Mokelumne rivers fail to meet federal clean water standards, state water regulators said yesterday. Like other states, California must abide by the federal Clean Water Act and report polluted waterways every three years to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The State Water Resources Control Board this week released its draft list of noncomplying rivers.  Union Democrat.com_10/5/05

Massachusetts lifts five-day drinking water ban in Holliston
The state Department of Environmental Protection lifted the ban around 2 p.m on Monday after test results showed that the water is free of toxins and safe to use, said Holliston water commissioner Paul Saulnier. Officials imposed the ban last Thursday after a worker at the plant accidentally released epoxy vapors into the public water supply. Around 5,000 residents of the western part of the town of 13,800 were told not to drink their tap water or shower at home. AP/Boston Globe_ 9/26/05

Official: 'Carginogen' may be present in Holliston, Massachusetts water supply

Fears that a cancer-causing compound has invaded the water is the reason officials here are warning some residents to avoid tap water until further notice. The water is being tested again today by state environmental officials, with the help of Clark University in Worcester, to determine just how serious the situation is. “The contractor screwed up,” said Holliston water commissioner Paul Saulnier, explaining how vapors from an epoxy paint were sucked into the water system. Saulnier said a compound called epichlorohydrine may have contaminated the water. The problem, he said, is they don’t know how to test for the substance. Boston Herald_ 9/25/05

What's the truth about...UK tap water

Recently Health Protection Agency specialists reported that campolybacter, which causes intestinal problems in 42,000 people a year, could "slip through the net" in British water supplies.  With consumption of bottled water exceeding 1.3 billion litres a year, is this the final blow to drinking what comes out of our taps?  Studies have also revealed that male fertility can be affected by female hormones leeched from the contraceptive Pill, which are found in many samples of tap water. Last year, in Scotland alone, there were 28 incidents of contaminated drinking water. In 22 of the most serious failings, Scottish Water customers had to boil their tap water.  Health Telegraph.com_9/22/05

Group says Missouri water supply threatened by global warming

An environmental group said Wednesday that a data analysis shows global warming is affecting the Missouri River basin, threatening the state's water supply.  The Missouri Public Interest Research Group touted a study conducted by the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. The study looked at effects on several river basin, including the Missouri River basin.  The Missouri River supplies water to 10 states, including Kansas and Missouri. The study found that the temperature in the Missouri River basin for 2000-2004 was the hottest of the past 110 years, about 1.5 degrees warmer than the historical average. Among other things, warmer temperatures worsen a drought's effects, the study found.  Kansas.com_9/21/05

Maine's Conservation Law Foundation threatens law suit over storm water pollutants

The Conservation Law Foundation says it will file a lawsuit against the Ferraiolo Corp., an asphalt and gravel firm, within 60 days if the Rockland-based company doesn't apply for storm-water discharge permits as required by federal law under the Clean Water Act. The foundation says storm-water pollution -- runoff from parking lots and industrial sites -- is a leading threat to Maine's rivers and lakes. Its threat to sue Ferraiolo is a bid, in part, to stress the seriousness of the problem. Frank Ferraiolo, the firm's vice president, denied his company is a polluter. He said the firm has the permits required by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, but he was unsure about the federal waste-water permit. Conservation Law Foundation officials estimate there are 3,000 industrial sites in Maine that should have storm-water permits -- and that only 400 actually do. Kennebec Journal_ 9/13/05

Missouri Clean Water Commission adopts rule amendments for cleaner streams
Rule changes will effect about 16,000 miles of Missouri streams and 300 lakes

The Missouri Clean Water Commission adopted a Final Order of Rulemaking today amending state water quality standards and effluent regulations to designate more than 96 percent of Missouri's classified stream miles for "whole body contact recreation" use. The rule changes will add bacterial standards to protect swimming uses for about 16,000 miles of Missouri streams and 300 lakes, in addition to those already protected. Those bacterial standards were previously required on only 5,500 miles of Missouri streams.  Kansas City InoZine_9/8/05

National Ground Water Association launches new children's program, web site

Ground water, fun? You bet! That's the goal of the National Ground Water Association's (NGWA) new program for children, Ground Water Adventurers, which can be found at The program for children K-12th grade makes an adventure out of exploring the world of ground water with brain ticklers, puzzles, fun experiments and more. The purpose of Ground Water Adventurers is to educate children about ground water - a critical part of the hydrologic cycle.  Press Release_9/8/05

Well water a danger to infants
Formula and food prepared with well water can cause nitrate poisoning in infants, leading the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to issue a warning for families using wells for their drinking water.  These families should have their water tested regularly, and breastfeed their infants if possible, the AAP said in a report in the September issue of Pediatrics. The report also recommends that pediatricians ask new parents about well water use during prenatal and check-up visits. Nitrates are a natural component of plants and some fertilizers, and they often seep into well water. Adults naturally pass nitrates through urine, but they can cause a dangerous blood condition in children that limits oxygen in the circulation. An estimated 15 million families drink water from private, unregulated wells, and 2 million families drink from wells that fail to meet federal drinking-water standards for nitrate, according to the AAP.  Forbes_9/6/05

EPA needs to better ensure Great Lakes water quality standards, GAO says

The U.S. Environmental Protection agency needs to work harder to ensure stringent water quality standards are fully implemented across the Great Lakes region, according to a report released Friday.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, said while some progress has been made in reducing Great Lakes pollution, more needs to be done to enforce the standards set forth in the Great Lakes Initiative. The initiative, a set of water quality criteria issued by the EPA, is designed to control toxic materials and protect wildlife and human health. The eight Great Lakes states -- Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- are responsible for implementing the criteria.
The GAO report found the initiative's potential to improve Great Lakes water quality is limited because it focuses on point sources of pollution created by industry, which are regulated, rather than non-point sources such as urban and agricultural runoff. The initiative also is limited because it allows the use of flexible implementation procedures, which lets facilities discharge pollutants at levels higher than those set by the initiative's water quality standards, the GAO said. The EPA said it generally agreed with the report's findings, but argued that the GAO had overlooked a number of the initiative's benefits, such as its establishment of an accurate way to determine point source limits for toxins. AP/Detroit News_ 8/27/05

PPL Corp. reduces fly ash flow into the Delaware River; Easton, Pensylvania water deemed safe

PPL Corp. said Friday it succeeded in "greatly reducing" the flow of fly ash-contaminated water into the Delaware River from a leaking basin at its Martins Creek power plant, but the leak had not been fully plugged as of Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, Easton's water treatment plant, which had stopped taking water from the river late Thursday morning and issued mandatory water restrictions later in the day, resumed drawing river water at midnight Thursday. However, mandatory water use restrictions will remain in effect until at least Monday morning so the water system can replenish its storage supply, said Easton Suburban Water Authority Manager Roy White. Environmental groups, meanwhile, were calling the continuing spill an environmental disaster. PPL has estimated over 50 million gallons of water-ash mixture has leaked from the ash basin since Tuesday night. Morning Call_ 8/26/05

Parasite outbreak at New York water park among worst in U.S.

The contamination at Seneca Lake State Park's Sprayground is likely one of the largest waterborne parasitic outbreaks nationwide in a decade. According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it appears that only two other contaminations in Wisconsin and Georgia beat out the 3,131 people and counting who reported becoming ill from water contaminated with the parasite cryptosporidium at the sprayground near Geneva, Ontario County, sometime between July and mid-August. Cryptosporidium is a one-celled parasite that lives in infected human and animal intestinal tracts. In the largest waterborne outbreak ever recorded in the United States, 403,000 people from the Milwaukee area became ill in 1993 after drinking public water contaminated with cryptosporidium. In 1995, the same parasite infected 5,449 people at a Georgia water park, according to the CDC. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle_ 8/26/05

EPA will study perchlorate's damage to drinking water supplies

The U.S. EPA plans to study the extent of damage done to drinking water supplies by a component of rocket fuel -- another step toward possible federal regulation of the chemical. The goal of the proposed $42 million study is to assess the occurrence of perchlorate and 25 other contaminants in water systems and potential human exposure over the next five years, according to EPA's proposed rule. The proposal is open for public comment.  At high levels, perchlorate can inhibit thyroid function and hormone production and may be responsible for neurological and behavioral problems in children. Regulators have found perchlorate in water and soil in at least 400 sites -- more than half of which are in California and Texas, the Government Accountability Office says. The utility trade group, American Water Works Association, said perchlorate has been identified in water supplies in 26 states. EPA is proposing to study perchlorate and the 25 other unregulated contaminants under a Safe Drinking Water Act provision. The study would require public water systems serving more than 10,000 people to collect a year's worth of information about the chemical and force 800 smaller water systems to draw samples to assess contamination. EPA would pay a total of $8 million for monitoring at smaller facilities. NRDC_8/22/05

Florida lawsuit says federal water policy at Lake O is killing endangered bird species
Complaint faults US Army Corps of Engineers

A federal policy favoring high water levels in Lake Okeechobee is harming an endangered bird by killing off its only food source, according to a lawsuit filed today by the National Wildlife Federation.  The snail kite, which eats only apple snails, once thrived at the lake but its numbers dwindled so much they have become a rare sight, the federation says. The policy, coupled with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' failure to study the effect of lake levels on the bird and the snail, violate the Endangered Species Act, according to the federation's legal counsel. The Corps has ultimate control over water levels in the lake but shares its management duties with the South Florida Water Management District. 

News Press.Com_8/22/05

Toll jumps to 1,700 of those sickened at New York water park

A popular water park in central New York has been shut down for the rest of the summer after the number of people who developed gastrointestinal illnesses after visiting the park rose to more than 1,700, the State Health Department said. So far, 13 of the cases have been confirmed as cryptosporidiosis, a common and highly contagious waterborne disease that can cause diarrhea, nausea and fever that can last for weeks. Tests found cryptosporidium, a parasite, in two storage tanks that supply water for Seneca Lake Park's state-run Sprayground park, officials said. AP/Chicago Sun-Times_ 8/21/05

Water park closes after hundreds fall ill

Gastrointestinal illness possibly stemming from a state-run water playground has sickened more than 700 people, mostly children and teenagers, the state Health Department said Thursday. "The numbers are growing significantly," said department spokesman Rob Kenny. Seneca Lake Park's Sprayground, which has water jets shooting up from a hardtop surface, was closed after tests showed the tank system that feeds the water jets was contaminated with a common waterborne disease called cryptosporidiosis. The disease is highly contagious and can cause diarrhea, nausea and fever that can last for weeks. It usually goes away without treatment in healthy individuals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The Washington Post _8/19/05

Study shows saltwater seeping into drinking water supply

Eight million gallons a day

A study shows a source of Hilton Head Island's drinking water is at risk of being contaminated by saltwater during the next 100 years, and state officials are assessing the threat.  A seven-year study conducted by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the U.S. Geological Survey shows about 8 million gallons of saltwater leaks into the underground source every day.  It's still unclear exactly what effect those leaks will have on the area's drinking water, how fast the problem needs to be addressed or how it can be fixed before too much water becomes contaminated.  Dateline Alabama_8/17/05

Data Sought for 26 Drinking Water Contaminants

Twenty-six unregulated contaminants will be monitored by many U.S. drinking water suppliers under a new rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. This second cycle of the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 2) also proposes the use of nine analytical methods to detect the contaminants.  The data collected will help EPA determine whether to regulate the contaminants, their occurrence in drinking water, the potential population exposed to each, and the levels of exposure.  Press Release_8/12/05

Aerojet inks pact with Carmichael, Calif. water district

Goal to stop the spread of chemicals to water supplies
Aerojet on Tuesday announced that it has signed an agreement with the Carmichael Water District to seek to halt the spread of pollutants threatening the district's water supply.  Aerojet had been negotiating to drill three wells and pay for treatment systems to stop the spread of contaminated groundwater that had seeped under the American River from Aerojet. That groundwater has small concentrations of NDMA, or n-Nitrosodimethylamine. Formerly used to make rocket fuel, the yellow liquid has been shown to cause liver disease and cancer in research animals.  Stopping the spread of the chemical is critical for the Carmichael district, which relies on wells for much of its water.  Sacramento Business Journal _8/2/05

July, 2005

Water for many in Alabama flows through asbestos pipe

The pipes the Environmental Protection Agency tried to ban in 1989 still carry drinking water to homes and schools in 85 systems throughout the state. The Anniston Star surveyed 30 of those systems, which account for nearly 200 miles of asbestos pipe.  Though system managers doubt their pipes ever have leached asbestos fibers into the drinking water, they can't prove it. Dateline Alabama_7/30/05

New study finds E. coli higher in sand than water

Levels found to be 10 times higher

Another day at the beach might not just include harmful bacteria in the water -- new studies suggest that high levels of E. coli can be found in the sand.  The studies, conducted over the last four years, monitored bacteria at beaches around the United States.  In the report "2005 State of the Beach Report: Bacteria and Sand," released by the Clean Beaches Council, it stated that the bacteria was "more highly concentrated in beach sand than in water."  On average, bacteria levels were 10 times higher in beach sand than in swimming waters. _7/30/05

Officials Downplay Chemical Found in Simi Valley Water
Traces of perchlorate, used in rocket fuel, are too slight to pose health risk, state regulators say.

State regulators on Friday reassured residents of central Simi Valley there was no health risk from the trace amounts of perchlorate found in well water blended with their drinking water.  Southern California Water Co., which serves 13,000 homes and businesses, about 40% of Simi Valley, said this week that since last August, it has detected minute levels of the contaminant, which has been linked to thyroid damage. Los Angeles Times_ 7/30/05 log on required

Rocket fuel ingredient found in California drinking water wells

Perchlorate found but not reported for one year

Small amounts of a rocket fuel ingredient have been found for the first time in Simi Valley's drinking water wells, officials said.  Community activists were angered that they weren't told of the test results until a Wednesday night meeting of the Santa Susana Field Lab Working Group. The Southern California Water Co. initially discovered perchlorate in the two wells last August.  "We've been told for years that there is no perchlorate showing up in drinking-water wells," said Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap. "Now that it's been found in the drinking-water wells, it confirms that the contamination is widespread."  Quarterly tests have turned up perchlorate levels in the wells of 1 to 3.3 parts per billion - below the state's allowed limit of 6 parts per billion. The findings furthered speculation that the fuel spread from the nearby Santa Susana Field Lab.  The Boeing Co., which owns the Rocketdyne field lab, has disputed such contentions.  San Jose Mercury News_7/29/05 log on required

'Myth' that forests improve water flows - study
Many countries are wasting millions of dollars planting trees because of myths that forests always help improve water flows and offset erosion, a British-led study said.  Many trees, especially fast-growing species like pines and eucalyptus favoured by the paper industry, suck more water from the ground than other crops, it said. The water transpires from the leaves and so the trees dry out the land.  "Trees on the whole are not a good thing in dry areas if you want to manage water resources," said John Palmer, manager of the tropical Forestry Research Programme run by the British Department for International Development.  "When it comes to wet areas, trees may be beneficial or no worse than pasture and crops," he told Reuters of the study of plantings in India, Costa Rica, South Africa and Tanzania in a four-year project led by British and Dutch researchers.  Reuters_7/29/05

Federal panel estimates cleanup costs for Great Lakes at up to $20 billion

A year after President Bush ordered the federal government to take a fresh look at cleaning up the ailing Great Lakes, a wide-ranging group of federal, state, tribal, and local officials as well as residents from the eight Great Lakes states has come up with a rough cost for the job -- $18 billion to $20 billion. The group, convened by the Environmental Protection Agency, says that is the amount needed in the next 15 years or so to plug the sewage spills that plague the lakes, scoop up the widespread pockets of toxic sediments, and slam shut the door to invasive species, among other measures. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Boston Globe_ 7/8/05

Illinois village cites radium-removal success

Three weeks into full operation, a new program to remove radium from Oswego's (Ill) municipal water supply appears to be proceeding smoothly.  After completing additions to well buildings and equipment installation, the village brought its fifth and last well on line in June.  Oswego is the first Illinois municipality to use a filtering process designed by a Colorado firm that removes radium and allows for safe transfer to a federally approved disposal facility.  Radium is a naturally occurring element found in some aquifers--the water source for most Chicago-area municipalities not receiving Lake Michigan water. Radium is particularly prevalent in the northern third of Illinois.  Chicago Tribune News _ 7/4/05

Georgia clean water rule may face changes

State environmentalists are steeling for a fight over a rule that keeps rivers and lakes clean enough to swim and fish in. The rule, commonly known as anti-degradation, prevents industries and local governments from dirtying high quality waters but still allows them to discharge wastewater.  Under the current rule, dischargers must prove an economic or social need and must sanitize their wastewater to the "highest and best practicable [level] under existing technology to protect existing beneficial water uses."  In February, the state Environmental Protection Division considered striking the "highest and best practicable" language just months after the Georgia Supreme Court issued a strict interpretation of the rule.  The court found EPD must tighten treatment standards proposed for Gwinnett County. The county is trying to discharge up to 40 million gallons a day of wastewater into Lake Lanier, metro Atlanta's most popular destination for boaters, anglers, skiers and swimmers.  Atlanta Journal Constitution_6/27/05 Log On Required

AWWA and Assn. of Metropolitan Water Agencies studies pin MTBE clean up costs between $25 billion and $85 billion

The studies, commissioned by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and AMWA, examined the cost to remove methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) contamination from public drinking water systems across the United States. These studies update estimates from 2001 that then cited MTBE cleanup costs at approximately $29 billion. The studies acknowledge that thousands of water systems are already contaminated by MTBE at levels at which consumers can taste or smell the chemical in their water. MTBE, which was added to gasoline as an octane enhancer and to help protect air quality, has a strong odor and is listed by EPA as a possible carcinogen. The AWWA and AMWA reports focus exclusively on the cost to treat contaminated public water supply wells. Other studies have focused on cleaning up leaking underground storage tank (LUST) sites. Press Release_ 6/21/05

Arsenic reduction in Arizona water
Gilbert residents have one last chance to learn about a project that will reduce arsenic levels in three town wells and bring construction to some neighborhoods.  New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards reduced arsenic levels in drinking water to 10 parts per billion from 50 parts per billion. Communities like Gilbert are scrambling to adhere to the standards before they take effect in January.  AZ _ 6/21/05 Log On Required

Federal appeals court upholds authority of U.S. EPA clean water regulations

Clean water regulations imposed by states must be at least as stringent as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The court rejected a request by a group of public agencies and private companies in Ohio and Indiana that asked the court to review EPA guidelines for discharging pollutants into the Great Lakes and the Ohio River. The Justice Department contended that Ohio was so lax in its water testing standards that polluters could discharge toxic waste. Sewer districts in Cleveland, Akron, Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati, and a coalition of Indiana entities, challenged the EPA's testing requirements. They argued that programs in place in the two states were stringent enough. Plain Dealer/AP/Free Press_ 6/18/05

Buried fireworks may be source of perchlorate contamination in water supply of Hills, Iowa

Unexploded fireworks buried in the soil are the logical source of contamination in some of the shallow water wells in Hills, a federal environmental official said. Traces of perchlorate, a main ingredient in the production of solid rocket fuel, were found in August 2003. The Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to find the source. Craig Smith, project leader with the EPA’s Region 7, said the EPA will stop supplying bottled water to residents with perchlorate contamination and instead will install temporary treatment systems. AP/Des Moines Register_ 6/16/05

Industries challenge New Mexico water rules

Mining, oil and gas, homebuilders and ranchers are challenging new state regulations that could let New Mexico adopt water quality rules that are more stringent than the federal ones. State Environment Secretary Ron Curry said he was disappointed by their action and that the state is only trying to hold the line on water quality after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed some federal protections. AP/Clovis News-Journal_ 6/10/05

Kentucky seeks fine in oil pipeline break

The Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet said 262,542 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Kentucky and Ohio rivers Jan. 26. That amount is far more than that first reported by Mid-Valley Pipeline. Early reports said the spill was 60,000 gallons. The number was later raised to 83,000 gallons. An official with Sunoco Logistics, which owns Mid-Valley, said the company has been working to resolve the aftermath of the pipeline rupture. The oil release fouled about 17 miles of the Kentucky River before it drained into the Ohio River. The spill prompted water officials in Louisville to provide extra treatment for drinking water. AP/Lexington Herald-Leader_ 6/8/05

World marks green day; big city mayors sign pacts to improve urban centers

The signings capped a five-day U.N. World Environment conference in San Francisco, the city where the United Nations was founded in 1945. The accords call for 21 actions that covered energy, waste reduction, urban design, urban nature, transportation, environmental health, and water improvement programs to be implemented by mayors and delegates from cities like Jakarta, London, Seattle, Rio de Janeiro, Lausanne, and Calcutta. Reuters_ 6/5/05

EPA wants aging Montana dam taken down to clean up mining contamination

The Environmental Protection Agency wants the Milltown Dam, where the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers meet in western Montana, to be taken down around late 2006. It's located at the end of the nation's largest Superfund environmental cleanup site and contaminated mud behind the dam — enough to fill a freight train more than 500 miles long —poses the real challenge, officials say. After years of campaigning, environmentalists view the sediment removal as a triumph. Skeptics, however, say disturbing the mud could introduce new problems. The arsenic and other contaminants were leached from old mines upstream in the Butte area. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/3/05

May, 2005

EPA releases 2004 annual report on Clean Water State Revolving Fund

The report highlights program activities and successes through the past 15 years. The fund is the largest federal funding program for water infrastructure projects across the country. The Proven Integrity and Performance report provides an overview of the fund, describes its financial status and economic and environmental performance, and discusses new directions for the future. Since it was created in 1988, the fund has provided low-interest loans targeting a wide range of projects in areas like wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, estuary management, and a host of projects focusing on water quality.

Press Release_ 5/25/05

View full report

Environmental bill cuts clean-water funding

The House passed the nation's yearly environmental budget May 19, even though Democrats say it guts clean-water programs.  The $26.2 billion appropriations bill for the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency passed 329-89.  The bill includes cuts of 40 percent to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which makes low-interest loans to local governments for clean-water projects.  But EPA officials said the program has all the money it needs. In 2003, President Bush called for a $6.8 billion program by 2011, and it will reach that target despite this year's cuts, according to the EPA.  Durango Herald_5/21/05

Five years after Walkerton, effort to protect Ontario's drinking water still not over
It was five years ago that a small-town disaster destroyed lives, tarnished personal and political reputations and shattered Canadian complacency about something long taken for granted - tap water.    Seven people were killed and 2,500 --half the rural midwestern Ontario community's population -- were infected after E. coli bacteria from cattle manure was washed into a town well.  Canada Press_5/22/05

Environmentalists make new push for water protection

Complaining of government foot-dragging, environmentalists offered a fresh set of proposals for protecting Michigan waters, including permit requirements for large-scale withdrawals and limits on private water sales.  "The goal is to end this delay ... that has left Michigan's waters exposed to unregulated exports from multinational corporations and other states and countries," said James Clift, policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council.  Nine organizations crafted the package and promised a renewed lobbying effort on its behalf, saying Michigan had failed to honor a promise to regulate water withdrawals made in 1985 when it signed the Great Lakes Charter with other states in the region.  The Detroit Free Press_5/18/05

New Hampshire environmentalists urge testing water for arsenic

Environmental officials are encouraging New Hampshire residents to test their water for contaminants like arsenic.

Many residents get their water from private wells, about 90 percent of which are in the bedrock where arsenic can be found.  About 15 percent of wells and public water systems in New Hampshire have a concentration of arsenic in the water that is equal to or greater than federal standards.  Arsenic has been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, immunological disorders and diabetes.  Seacoast Online_5/16/05

Critics say new Canadian law to protect water could threaten farming

The Manitoba government is pushing ahead with a new water-quality bill that critics say is so sweeping it could force farmers off their land.  The Water Protection Act, which is expected to become law soon, allows the provincial cabinet to take virtually any action necessary to protect creeks, rivers and lakes.  Canadian Press_ 5/15/05

Plan to take better care of water quality is earning accolades; conservationists disagree

New Mexico's northern waters are choking on a 100-year-old pollution problem exacerbated by the state's naturally erosive soils and what conservationists say was until recently an unstrategic effort to fix a long-standing dilemma.    From San Juan to Union County, more than 60 percent of the state's northern rivers and streams don't meet state water quality standards. That's 115 year-round streams and rivers, or portions of them, out of 190 that fall short of state-determined pollution limits.  ABQ Journal _ 5/15/05 Log on Required

Canada wants end to U.S. water project
Environmentalists fear North Dakota dam could impact Manitoba wildlife

Canada appealed to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday to put a hold on a drainage project in North Dakota that environmentalists fear will take polluted water and alien species of wildlife across the border into Manitoba province.  Time is running out because the $28 million US project is to be opened next month. Frank McKenna, the Canadian ambassador in Washington, wrote Thursday in the New York Times that the Devils Lake project would dump pollutants into the Sheyenne and Red rivers that would damage not only Canada but downstream towns in North Dakota and Minnesota.  National Post_5/13/05

Pentagon asks Congress to ease water and other pollution rules for military

Military officials contend that the requested changes are essential to preserving the quality of combat training and to avoiding lawsuits over possible violations of statutes that govern air, water and waste. With more than 100,000 American military personnel in Iraq, training issues have taken on a heightened sense of urgency. But environmental advocacy groups as well as state and local governments have mounted vigorous opposition to the Pentagon requests, arguing that the waivers would further degrade conditions on and around the nation's military bases, endangering the health of millions of people. As the owner of 425 active bases and scores of former bases, the Defense Department is widely regarded as the one of nation's leading polluters. New York Times_ 5/10/05

Florida's Lake Worth Drainage District proposes $10 million berm to improve Everglades' water flow

A berm in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge would help ensure deliveries of water from the refuge into its grid of 511 miles of canals used to irrigate farm fields and charge wells in south and central Palm Beach County, the water district says. The environmental group Audubon of Florida opposes the concept. Water managers need to improve their Everglades filtering system by adding more land to it, not by moving pollution from one location to another, said Audubon's Deputy Director Mark Kraus. Sun-Sentinel_ 5/1/05

April, 2005

So-called ballast-free ships threaten Great Lakes, report says

Oceangoing freighters that claim to be empty of ballast water before entering the Great Lakes routinely carry dangerous foreign organisms, including saltwater algae, invertebrates and deadly bacteria, a new report says. The University of Michigan and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted a five-year study of freighters that enter the lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway. Organisms can escape when ships take on and unload ballast water while in Great Lakes harbors. Researchers also found that two-thirds of the 42 ships sampled carried potentially deadly organisms in ballast water tanks that were supposed to be empty and clean, including cholera and cryptosporidium, The Muskegon Chronicle reported Tuesday. AP/Detroit Free Press_ 4/19/05

Sewage makes Susquehanna River most endangered in U.S.: American Rivers

The Susquehanna River drains most of Central Pennsylvania and is the single biggest tributary coming into the Chesapeake Bay. It flows through Binghamton, N.Y., and Scranton, Harrisburg, Lancaster and York -- older cities with sewer systems and treatment plants that cannot handle sewage treatment, especially during storm events when overflows of untreated sewage are common. The national environmental group American Rivers' list of the top-10 rivers threatened by sewage contamination aren't necessarily badly polluted, but their futures are uncertain or poised to take a turn for the worse, the organization said. The list this year also includes the Little Miami River in southeastern Ohio; Santee River in South Carolina; McCrystal Creek in New Mexico; the Fraser River in Colorado; the Skykomish River in Washington; Roan Creek in Tennessee; the Tuolumne and Santa Clara rivers in California and the Price River in Utah. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette_ 4/13/05

U.S. House authorizes $50 million for perchlorate cleanup in Southern California groundwater

There have been 186 perchlorate detections in areas served by the Santa Ana watershed, which include portions of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, according to the office of Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, who authored the legislation. Baca's bill, which passed on voice vote, still requires Senate approval before it could become law. It also passed the House last year but did not make it through the Senate before the end of the last congressional session. Perchlorate is a chemical used in rocket fuel, fireworks, road flares and other devices that is widespread around military bases and other industrial sites. It can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones, which are needed for pre- and postnatal growth and development, though there is disagreement about how much is dangerous. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 4/12/05

Silica in drinking water may prevent Alzheimer's: French study

A high concentration of silica in drinking water seems to protect against Alzheimer's disease, a study in France suggests. Dr. Sophie Gillette-Guyonnet, at Hopital Casselardit in Toulouse, and colleagues studied 7,598 women older than 75 enrolled in the Epidemiology of Osteoporosis Study (EPIDOS). Their report was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The women with Alzheimer's disease were 2.7 times more likely to have daily silica intake considerably lower than those without Alzheimer's disease, the researchers found. Reuters_ 4/11/05

Roscoe, Texas drinking water exceeds EPA nitrate safety levels

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established the CCL for nitrate at 10 mg/l, and has determined that it is a health concern at levels above the maximum contaminant level (MCL). Analysis of the drinking water in Roscoe for nitrate showed a level of 13.69 mg/l. Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become serious ill and, if untreated, may die. The city has drilled a new water well that has been verified as being below the MCL of 10 mg/l. This well is expected to be in use by mid spring. The city has also constructed a new ground storage tank and is providing, at no additional cost, water for pregnant women and infants. Sweetwater Reporter_ 4/9/05

Santa Clarita, California to add ammonia to tap water disinfection system

The change is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean water better and to prevent formation of trihalomethanes, which form when chlorine interacts with plant life or other organic material, and which have been linked to birth defects. The Castaic Lake Water Agency, which imports and purifies water from Northern California, will add ammonia to its chlorine disinfection system, but the new process creates an additive called chloramines. Since August, the water agency has been running an education campaign targeting kidney patients because chloramines must be removed from water before use in any dialysis treatment process. Daily News_ 4/10/05

Feds to move 12 million ton pile of nuclear waste away from Colorado River

The river is a major source of drinking water for about 25 million people in the Southwest. The Department of Energy announcement was a victory for environmentalists and Western politicians who fear the debris could poison the drinking water supply for Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and other cities. The mostly open-air heap near Moab, Utah sits just 750 feet from the river. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 4/7/05

Bisbee, Arizona's plans to discharge effluent near drinking water wells worry water company

In a nine-page letter to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Arizona Water Co. President Bill Garfield warned that discharging effluent into the Greenbush Draw could affect the drinking water for Bisbee and Naco. Bisbee Mayor Ron Oertle said he was surprised at the letter and wanted to wait to see what DEQ has to say on the issue. AP/Arizona Republic_ 4/3/05 (logon required)

California regulators to keep existing perchlorate drinking water goal

Officials said it six parts per billion is consistent with a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences. Setting a health goal is the first step toward establishing a limit on the amount of perchlorate allowed in drinking water. California's national defense and space industries used perchlorate heavily, mostly as a component of rocket fuel, explosives, fireworks, road flares and air-bag inflation systems. It has been found in drinking water sources around the state, including Colorado River water that serves 15 million customers. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 4/1/05

March, 2005

California Legislature considers ban on chemical Bisphenol A in kids' bottles and other children's products

If passed, California would be the first state to limit its use. Bisphenol A is the prime chemical in making the polycarbonate plastic popular in durable, clear Nalgene water bottles. It has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years from scientists who caution that it's found in thousands of consumer products and has invaded the human body. Industry representatives say the chemical in the products remains at insignificant concentrations, and they maintain that nationwide tests compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the bisphenol A levels in people aren't worrisome. The Food and Drug Administration permits its use. But researchers have found that at doses below or at a federal safety guideline, the chemical can disrupt hormone systems of lab animals, affecting the workings of their brains. Bisphenol A has been used for decades in the manufacture of tough plastics known as polycarbonate plastics. The plastics make up a wide variety of products, primarily food and drink packaging and containers such as hard, clear and sometimes tinted Nalgene water bottles, and in toys, pacifiers, baby bottles and teethers. The chemical is also used in epoxy resins that coat food cans, bottle tops and water supply pipes, and as sealants for children's teeth for the prevention of cavities. Nalge Nunc International, which makes Nalgene bottles, didn't return calls. San Francisco Chronicle_ 3/31/05

Report: Human damage to Earth water and air worsening fast

Humans are damaging the planet at an unprecedented rate and raising risks of abrupt collapses in nature that could spur disease, deforestation or "dead zones" in the seas, said a report by the international Millennium Ecisystem Assessment. The study, by 1,360 experts in 95 nations, said a rising human population had polluted or over-exploited two thirds of the ecological systems on which life depends, ranging from clean air to fresh water, in the past 50 years. Reuters_ 3/30/05

India's Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) wins 2005 Stockholm Water Prize

In its citation, the nominating committee of the Stockholm Water Foundation, which awards the prize, lauded CSE "for generation of new knowledge on water management, a community-based sustainable integrated resource management under gender equity, a courageous stand against undemocratic, top-down bureaucratic resource control, an efficient use of a free press and an independent judiciary to meet these goals". Director Sunita Narain, on behalf of CSE, will receive the 1.3 million Swedish Kronor prize from King Carl Gustaf of Sweden in August. newkerala_ 3/22/05

Stockholm Water Foundation

Critics complain Rocketdyne filters water before radioactivity testing at former California nuclear site

As a result, the levels of contamination could be 10 to 15 times higher than what is being recorded by the tests, said Daniel Hirsch, a member of an interagency group monitoring the cleanup. Rocketdyne's director of safety, health and environmental affairs, Steve Lafflam, called the criticism "sort of a red herring," saying water tested at the site has met all public health standards. However, both filtered and unfiltered water will be tested in the future by a lab certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. Rocketdyne's field lab, located in the hills between Simi Valley and Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, was used for decades until the 1980s to test rocket engines and perform nuclear tests. The work resulted in a number of spills and accidents over the years, including a partial nuclear reactor meltdown in 1959. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 3/21/05

Study says Canadian smelter polluting U.S. Lake Roosevelt

The U.S. Geological Survey said a Canadian smelter produced most of the lead, zinc and cadmium pollution in the lake and studies of sediment in Lake Roosevelt also determined that slag that was dumped into the Columbia River for decades had evidence of weathering and breaking down, and could not be considered inert. The lake, which was created on the Columbia River in 1941 with the building of the Grand Coulee Dam, is the focus of a fight between the U.S. government, Washington state Indian tribes and Canadian mining firm Teck Cominco Ltd. Reuters_ 3/7/05

Bipartisan Poll: Majority in U.S. want federal trust fund for clean water

More than eight in 10 Americans believe that clean and safe water is a national issue that deserves federal investment, according to a new poll of 900 adults conducted jointly by Republican and Democratic polling firms. Results of the poll undertaken jointly by the Luntz Research Companies, and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. Environmental News Service_ 3/7/05

Bush's pick of Stephen Johnson to head EPA widely praised

President Bush's appointment of the career agency insider as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency took environmental groups by surprise and earned the White House rare praise from advocates who long have been bitter foes. Johnson, 53, whom a former colleague praised as "the ultimate technocrat," is the first career EPA employee to head the agency. He has been the agency's acting administrator since Michael Leavitt left to become health and human services secretary in January. For most of his 24 years at EPA, Johnson held nonpolitical jobs in the part of the agency that regulates pesticides. Washington Post & Knight Ridder/Seattle Times_ 3/5/05

U.S. Energy Department and New Mexico Environment Department agree on groundwater cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory

It sets a cleanup completion date of 2015. The lab is managed by the University of California. The order states that metals such as arsenic and beryllium have been detected in the soil and sediment at the lab over the years, while organic compounds such dichloroethylene and dichloroethane have turned up in the groundwater. AP/North County Times_ 3/3/05

EPA and six states set limits for 350 wastewater dischargers in Chesapeake Bay watershed

After two decades of reliance on non-regulatory efforts to control nitrogen discharges, the EPA and the states will begin requiring that enforceable limits be part of the wastewater permits. for more than 350 of the largest wastewater dischargers in the Bay watershed. Large wastewater treatment plants and industries from the headwaters of the Susquehanna in New York to the tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore will be required to cap nitrogen and phosphorus discharges specifically to benefit the Bay. Bay Journal_ 3/1/05

Conference addresses urban water planning

Attendees at the Michigan Smart Growth for Clean Water Conference 2005 are trying to change the ecology of cities.  Storm water management was the focus of the conference, as it relates to growing communities and the resulting polluting runoff from streets and buildings. At the conference, city developers, environmentalists and researchers listened to a new way of thinking about watershed issues.  The State News_2/25/05

Airline water tests put California teen on an elite list

A 15-year-old Alamo, Calif. boy who investigated the safety of airline water has been inlcuded as one of  "20 Teens Who Willl Change the World" in the April issue of Teen People.  Zach Bjornson-Hooper's findings spurred further investigation, first by the Wall Street Journal and eventually the Environmental Protection Agency. The studies have prompted the federal government to issue stricter guidelines -- including more frequent testing -- for water served on airlines, and harsher fines for safety violations. 

Contra Costa Times_2/25/05  (Logon required)

Dirty water, sanitation kill thousands daily

Experts decry "Silent humanitarian crisis"
Unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation kill 4,000 children every day,according to global health experts.  Four out of 10 people around the globe do not have access to a simple pit latrine and one-fifth have no source of safe drinking water.


Great Salt Lake mercury worries scientists

Federal scientists studying the Great Salt Lake have found some of the highest levels of mercury ever measured anywhere _ prompting concern about some of the migratory birds that feed on the lake's brine shrimp. Concentrations of methylmercury _ the element's most poisonous form _ exceeded 25 nanograms per liter of water. Fish consumption warnings have been issued when there was just 1 nanogram per liter. The study's preliminary findings eventually may overturn the long-held idea that areas of the lake's deep brine layer, which has no oxygen, is a kind of disposal system where toxins sink to the lake bed and become inert. Instead, the USGS study suggests the lake's peculiar chemistry actually speeds the conversion of mercury to its more toxic organic form. Mercury is a highly toxic element that occurs naturally in the environment but also has been introduced through mining and industrial activity. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 2/21/05

EPA sets exposure limit for perchlorate

It's the first federal safety standard for perchlorate, a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel and explosives and blamed for widespread contamination of drinking water near military sites. The Environmental Protection Agency's new limit for what it considers a safe exposure level will be used in guiding Superfund cleanups and determining whether the agency should go a step further and regulate perchlorate as a drinking water contaminant. The limit, which translates to 24.5 parts per billion in drinking water, is the same level recommended by the National Academy of Sciences in January but higher than what EPA proposed two years ago. Perchlorate is a chemical found in nature, but the academy said its presence in the environment is mainly from its use in rocket fuels, fireworks and explosives. It has been linked to thyroid ailments, and is considered particularly dangerous to children. Perchlorate has been found in drinking water in 35 states, and environmentalists want EPA to use its exposure level to issue federal drinking water standards for the chemical. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 2/18/05

Some Florida residents panicked by water byproducts report

About 5,000 utility customers in Flagler Beach and Bunnell will be receiving notices in the mail this week that their water supplies contain two and three times the acceptable level of a chemical byproduct called trihalomethanes that have been linked to miscarriages and birth defects. City water supplies in the two communities, as well as four private systems in Volusia County, fail to meet federal standards for safe drinking, state officials announced last week. State officials are suggesting pregnant women avoid drinking tap water, and one national study showed a higher rate of miscarriages among women exposed to trihalomethanes. However, leaders on the local and state level differ on the severity of the problem. Caught in between are residents who have been calling utility departments in Bunnell and Flagler Beach and the Flagler County Health Department. Some residents are concerned while others are panicked, said Benjamin Juengst, the county's Environmental Health Director. News-Journal Online_ 2/16/05

Tulsa Okla. chiefs fear upstream output will tarnish water

Tulsa officials plan to fight an Arkansas town’s efforts to discharge waste into a drinking water source where out-of-state pollution already brought a court battle.

NWA News_2/13/05

2005 could be warmest year recorded - NASA

A weak El Nino and human-made greenhouse gases could make 2005 the warmest year since records started being kept in the late 1800s, NASA scientists said. The warmest year on record was 1998, with 2002 and 2003 coming in second and third, respectively. Reuters_ 2/10/05

El Nino to weaken in next 3 months - NOAA

The weak El Nino has had a minor impact on global weather recently but it will diminish and end during the next three months, U.S weather forecasters said. In its latest El Nino assessment report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said El Nino conditions were unlikely to reemerge during the remainder of 2005. El Nino, which is Spanish for "the little boy," is an abnormal warming of water in the Pacific Ocean every three or so years that can wreak havoc with global weather patterns. The weather abnormality last appeared from May 2002 through March 2003, causing record rains in Europe and Australia's worst drought in a century. In the United States, it aggravated drought in the Plains states and unleashed heavy storms in the South. Reuters_ 2/10/05

Louisville, Kentucky oil spill costs top $500,000; Ohio River water treated for odor, taste

The water poses no health risk, Louisville Water Co. spokeswoman Barbara Crow said, but the company is spending up to $50,000 a day to treat it with activated carbon to remove odor and a potentially bad taste. More than 80,000 gallons of crude oil was released into the Kentucky River near Carrollton last week after a pipeline near the Henry-Carroll county line ruptured, according to Mid-Valley Pipeline Co., which owns the pipeline. Officials initially predicted that relatively small amounts of the crude might reach the Ohio. But Art Smith, the on-scene coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Louisville office, said at least several thousand gallons made it to the Ohio. Louisville Courier-Journal_ 2/5/05

January, 2005

Water Quality Association task force urges WHO to keep issue of water hardness and heart disease in proper perspective for consumers and government regulators

The WQA task force was commenting on the 2003 WHO draft paper Nutrient Minerals in Drinking Water and the Potential Health Consequences of Consumption of Demineralized and Remineralized and Altered Mineral Content Drinking Water. The WQA press release said "while the paper appears to be a fairly thorough review of available literature by a group of very respected scientists and experts in the fields of epidemiology and nutrition, WQA is worried that it may precipitously and inappropriately affect both consumer attitudes and the directives and regulations of governments."  Press Release_ 1/28/05

WHO Draft Water Reports

Broken pipeline spills 63,000 gallons of oil into Kentucky River; could affect drinking water

The crude oil spill created a 12-mile-long slick that crews were racing to contain to keep it from contaminating drinking water. The oil spill had crept within five miles of the Ohio River, which several communities in northern Kentucky rely on for their water supplies, said Environmental Protection Agency onsite coordinator Art Smith. The Kentucky River is not used for drinking water in the area. It was not immediately clear what caused the rupture of the pipeline, which carries about 180,000 barrels of crude daily from the Gulf Coast to refineries in northwest Ohio. AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 1/26/05

Arctic rivers 'flowing faster,' sending more fresh water into the Arctic Ocean: UK scientists

Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the team from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, say the increase is caused in part by human activities and could change the global distribution of water. The journal is published by the American Geophysical Union. BBC News_ 1/20/05

Walker, Louisiana to reduce manganese buildup in town's drinking water

Robert Dugas, the town's water supervisor, said the manganese buildup turns the water brown when it reacts with chlorine. The town is flushing the water system to reduce the problem and is considering adding a citric-based chemical to reduce the manganese buildup as well. Alderman Tom Watson said the town also has to map out where the pipes are in its system, which is a hodgepodge of different-sized pipes and dead ends because of rapid development. That hodgepodge created manganese settlement. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Advocate_ 1/18/05

Long Island, New York's Brookhaven National Laboratory proposing 70 years for groundwater cleanup

Where some of Brookhaven's other cleanups will last 30 years, the lab wants 70 years to filter radioactive strontium 90 from water just beneath the ground, and 65 years to extract volatile organic compounds from an aquifer. Scientists said the plan was less expensive and would put less strain on the surrounding community, and insisted there was no greater risk that dangerous chemicals would leach into people's drinking water. But at a public meeting, environmentalists said the lab was sending the wrong message. New York Times_ 1/12/05 (logon required)

Some levels of rocket fuel pollutant perchlorate are safe, but not as much as industry argued - National Academy of Sciences committee

At least two environmental groups accused the government of trying to influence the report's findings, but disagreed on whether the attempts had succeeded.

Perchlorate can affect thyroid function. There are no federal limits on how much is safe but independent groups have said the chemical could, in theory, affect developing babies. The committee said the EPA would have to seek more data on the effects of perchlorate on children before setting any standards. Reuters_ 1/10/05

Directors of California's Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to evaluate performance of executive director after disclosures that world's largest cheese manufacturer polluted with impunity for 16 years

The board will look at the work of other employes in the Fresno office, as well as executive director Thomas Pinkos, when it meets Jan. 27-28 in Sacramento. Hilmar Cheese Co., the world's largest cheese factory, is among hundreds of businesses — many related to agriculture — in the southern part of the valley regulated by the Fresno staff. One of its owners is Chuck Ahlem, California undersecretary of agriculture and a dairyman who served from 1996 through 2000 as a Gov. Wilson appointee on the water board. The Sacramento Bee reported that on nearly every day for the past 16 years, Hilmar Cheese Co. violated state rules designed to keep ground-water safe as its production grew. Board staff recorded at least 4,000 violations against the company the past four years, making it one of California's most chronic offenders of clean-water laws. Sacramento Bee_ 1/2/05

Toxic waste taints Ringwood State Park, a jewel of the New Jersey parks system and a source of area drinking water

Located in the Highlands region near the New York border, a brook inside the park flows to the Wanaque Reservoir, which provides drinking water to Newark and Jersey City and is the largest surface water reservoir in the state. A state-certified lab found that lead levels in paint sludge dumped there decades ago by the Ford Motor Company were 70 times the level considered acceptable. Dangerous levels of arsenic and other toxic chemicals were also found in the sludge, which was discovered by local residents and collected for testing by the Edison Wetlands Association. Groundwater and soil in the area were also contaminated. The closed section of the 4,044-acre park is part of a 500-acre federal Superfund site in Passaic County that was supposedly cleaned up a decade ago. Cheryl Eberwein, a spokeswoman for Ford, said no substantive contamination had been found at 20 of its groundwater monitoring wells. New York Times_ 1/1/05 (logon required)


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