Tests May Underestimate AF Water Contamination

By John Fleck

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tests conducted by Air Force contractors may have frequently underestimated the levels of hazardous chemicals found in Albuquerque groundwater contaminated by a Kirtland Air Force Base fuel spill, Air Force and state officials have acknowledged in documents and interviews.

The extent of the problem is unclear, but it raises questions about the accuracy of official estimates of the size of the plume and the speed with which it might be moving toward municipal drinking water wells, according to one of the leading critics of cleanup efforts.

The problem, first detected in groundwater samples collected nearly three years ago, has increased recently, according to Tom Blaine, director of the New Mexico Environment Department’s Environmental Health Division.

Tiny gas bubbles found in some water samples have the effect of masking some of the contamination, leading to samples that in lab tests show lower levels of contamination than actually present, according to a June 27 letter from Blaine to Air Force officials. Contaminants can evaporate out of the water and into the bubbles, reducing the concentration of the dangerous chemicals left behind in the water sample. The problem is especially serious when trying to measure low levels of contamination at the edge of the spreading groundwater contamination, Blaine said in an interview. (more…)

 

The Pure Water Occasional for July 28, 2014

In this pre-National Garden Hose Day Occasional you’ll hear about Zombie swimming pools,  Darby Dam,  chikungunya,  Scajaquada Creek, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Batang River. Meet Peter Gleick and Umbra. Learn about Crohn’s Disease from shower water,  new concerns with rain barrels, the fracking-additive Excelyte,  the fuel cost of seafood,  and invasive plants, fish, mollusks and mussels. Bad news about water restrictions, earthquakes in Oklahoma, the rapid decline of the Colorado River, Halliburton’s mystery spill in Ohio, Israel’s warfare by water, and the dumping of medical wastes by the army. Fracking and more fracking; drought and more drought. The good news: National Garden Hose Day is only six days away,  PWP has a new Easy-Off filter housing, and as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is a project of Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette.

To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette’s website,  please go here.  (Recommended! When you read online you get the added advantage of the Gazette’s sidebar feed of the very latest world water news.)

Slamming Shut the Doors

A excerpt from an extensive Journal Sentinel study of Great Lakes devastation by Zebra and quagga mussels:

  How invasive species changed the Great Lakes forever

A watershed moment has arrived for the Great Lakes.

After decades of regulatory paralysis, a federal judge has forced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin requiring overseas ships to decontaminate their ballast water before discharging it into the five lakes that together span a surface area the size of the United Kingdom.

Despite their vastness, for thousands of years the inland seas above Niagara Falls were as isolated from the outside world as a Northwoods Wisconsin pond. That all changed in 1959. The U.S. and Canadian governments obliterated the lake’s natural barrier to invasive fish, plants, viruses and mollusks with the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a system of channels, locks and dams that opened the door for ocean freighters to sail up the once-wild St. Lawrence River, around Niagara Falls and into the heart of the continent.

Small boats had access to the lakes since the 1800s thanks to relatively tiny man-made navigation channels stretching in from the East Coast and a canal at Chicago that artificially linked Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River basin.

But the consequences of opening a nautical freeway into the Great Lakes for globe-roaming freighters proved disastrous — at least 56 non-native organisms have since been discovered in the lakes, and the majority arrived as stowaways in freighter ballast tanks.

These invaders have decimated native fish populations and rewired the way energy flows through the world’s largest freshwater system, sparking an explosion in seaweed growth that rots in reeking pockets along thousands of miles of shoreline. The foreign organisms are implicated in botulism outbreaks that have suffocated tens of thousands of birds on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. They are among the culprits responsible for toxic algae blooms on Lake Erie that threaten public water supplies.

The hope is the new ballast discharge regulations will shut the door to new invasions.

The reality: The Environmental Protection Agency has already acknowledged they are not stringent enough to do that job.

The agency blames a lack of technology to adequately disinfect ballast tanks. Critics blame a lack of resolve in getting tough with the relatively tiny overseas shipping industry that has done so much damage to this singularly important natural resource; an average of fewer than two such ships visit the lakes each day during the Seaway’s nine-month, ice-free shipping season.

“We can do much better,” says biologist Gary Fahnenstiel, who spent his career chronicling the ecological unraveling of Lake Michigan for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “If we really care about the lakes.”

Solving the Seaway ballast problem isn’t just about the Great Lakes, because the invaders have a history of making their way into waters across the continent. Out West, where Great Lakes invasive mussels are spreading as fast as boats are towed from lake to lake, states now have laws to throw people in jail and fine them thousands of dollars for transporting the same species Seaway freighters dumped on the continent with impunity.

Great Lakes advocates predict the bubbling frustration out West over the Seaway’s role in their troubles will erupt if — or when — Seaway ships unleash yet another invader.

Zebra Mussel

Zebra Mussels (click for larger view)

“The industry has had this grace period to find solutions,” says Phyllis Green, superintendent of Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. “The grace period they have been given will hit the fan when they find the next one.”

The pressure is mounting inside the Great Lakes basin as well, because even as the EPA leaves this front door to the Great Lakes cracked open, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under fire from Congress to shut the back door — the Chicago canal system that is the prime pathway for Asian carp to invade the lakes. Rebuilding the natural divide between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin is a project that likely would take years and cost billions of dollars.

But it begs the question: Why spend all this money to close the back door if we aren’t going to shut and seal the front door as well?

Building a barrier to protect the upper Great Lakes from Seaway invaders would actually be simpler than restoring the natural watershed divide at Chicago. In fact, such a barrier already exists.

It’s called Niagara Falls.

Read the full study here.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

 Acute water crisis looms in Gaza, aid agencies warn

by Stephanie Nebehay

Editor’s Note: One of the very dirtiest forms of warfare is attacking civilian populations  by destroying water infrastructure.  If the report below is correct, Israel appears to have sunk as low as the US and Great Britain, who in the years preceding the first US attack on Iraq destroyed the country’s water and sanitation infrastructure with bombs, then purposely prevented repairs by sanctioning the import of parts needed to fix water and sewage plants. Sanctions covered even such essential water treatment tools as chlorine.  As a result, tens of thousands of Iraqis, and especially Iraqi children under five, died of easily preventable waterborne diseases.  Warfare of this type is simply an indirect application of biological warfare, which civilized nations claim to abhor. See ”A Prayer for Water & Children” which is archived on the Gazette’s old website.–Hardly Waite.

Hundreds of thousands of Gazans are without water after Israeli air strikes that have wrecked the water and sewage system and the whole strip is threatened with a water crisis within days, aid agencies warned on Tuesday.

The eight-day assault has caused massive damage to infrastructure and destroyed at least 560 homes, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said.

“Within days, the entire population of the Strip may be desperately short of water,” Jacques de Maio, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Israel and the occupied territories, said in a statement.

If hostilities continue, just as temperatures soar in the region, “the question is not if but when an already beleaguered population will face an acute water crisis”, he said.

“Water is becoming contaminated and sewage is overflowing, bringing a serious risk of disease,” de Maio added.

Several municipal water engineers have been killed in the conflict and Gaza’s water service provider has suspended all field operations until the safety of its staff can be guaranteed, according to the ICRC, an independent aid agency whose teams have helped with emergency repairs.

“Water is a problem and it can quickly turn into a catastrophe,” ICRC spokewoman Nada Doumani told a news briefing.

At least 184 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the fighting, the worst flare-up in two years. The stated purpose of Israel’s bombing is quieting cross-border rocket fire from Hamas militants fired into southern Israel.

Untreated Sewage

UNRWA said the destruction compounded the effects of eight years of Israel’s blockade of the enclave.

“The water and sewage network is barely functioning, and with the sustained bombardment of the past 8 days, it’s as good as destroyed,” UNRWA spokesman Sami Mshasha told the briefing.

“We’re looking at 90 million litres of untreated sewage that flows into the ocean every day because there is no electricity to treat it. Ninety percent of the drinking water is not fit for human consumption.”

The World Health Organization (WHO), a U.N. agency, warned last week that health services in the occupied Palestinian territory were on the brink of collapse among severe shortages in medicines and fuel for hospital generators.

Hamas militants fired volleys of rockets from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, drawing a threat by Israel to abandon an Egyptian-proposed truce it had unilaterally accepted.

“We are extremely worrried as UNRWA that if the ceasefire being negotiated today does not succeed, then the much-talked about ground offensive might unfold and we might see an Israeli military incursion into Gaza,” Mshasha said.

If there is a truce, the ICRC hopes for better access to the increasing numbers of casualties, spokeswoman Doumani said.

The ICRC is “documenting violations of international humanitarian law” in the conflict, she said.

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday voiced serious doubts that Israeli’s military operation against Gaza complied with international law banning the targeting of civilians, and called on both sides to respect the rules of war.

Source: Chicago Tribune News.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

Umbra on Rain Barrels 

The except below is  from Grist’s popular “Ask Umbra” feature.  One rain barrel hazard that Umbra leaves out is getting the Rain Barrel Song in your head.  Once there, it can stay for days. Umbra’s comments  illustrate that owning and using even the simplest of objects can be really complicated.–Hardly Waite.

Rain barrels in general are unequivocally healthy for the planet. Simple systems designed to funnel rainwater from your roof into storage tanks, rain barrels relieve pressure on stormwater systems, reduce the energy used to treat and transport water, and save you roughly 1,300 gallons of tap water per summer. [But, there may be some drawbacks.]

Once it hits your roof, a raindrop may run over and collect a number of contaminants. Everything from roof-treatment chemicals to airborne heavy-metal pollutants to mold to the poop from roosting birds or squirrels may be swept into your clean-looking barrel. So while using the water to irrigate trees, shrubs, and flowers is universally smiled upon, some people get a little queasy about putting it on plants they’ll eventually be eating. Might those rooftop nasties make you sick?

I hate to rain on your parade, but there’s not a lot of research out there to provide a definitive answer. One 2013 study from Rutgers examined rain-barrel water for lead, zinc, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and E. coli bacteria. The water harbored no PAHs and little heavy metals, and most (but not all) samples were also low in bacteria. It is possible to have your runoff tested for contaminants at a local health department or well-water testing facility – but experts at Rutgers say testing thoroughly enough for meaningful results is likely impractical and expensive for home gardens.

What we’re left with then . . . is your personal tolerance for risk. I can tell you that plenty of gardeners do dip into the rain barrel to water their veggies. Experts can tell you the risk is minimal, but the practice is not entirely without peril. You should definitely skip it if your roof is copper or has been treated with chromated copper arsenate or zinc (used to prevent algal growth). If not, though, you must decide for yourself.

Feeling lucky? It’s smart to take some precautions. Water the veggies and herbs with a drip or trickle irrigator rather than pouring on the plants themselves; this minimizes direct contact and harnesses the filtration power of the soil. Water in the morning to allow for drying and UV light disinfection, and don’t use rainwater close to harvest time. Always, always wash your veggies thoroughly with potable water before you eat them. You might also consider installing a “first flush” feature that diverts the first few gallons from any rain into a separate barrel, as these are the most likely to contain troublesome additives (though other research casts doubts on this system’s efficacy, too). And finally, make sure to keep your barrel clean throughout the season.

Feeling not so lucky? That’s OK too – you can find loads of other uses for that water. Use it to wash your car, top off the pool, clean your gardening tools, and flush your toilet. And as I mentioned up top, rainwater is A-OK to use on non-edible plants. In fact, it’s even better than tap water because it doesn’t contain chlorine or calcium, which may harm beneficial bugs in the soil.

Source:  Grist (Ask Umbra)

Water News Items for the week of July 28, 2014

This week’s water news was again dominated by drought and fracking.

The hospital disinfectant that’s being used in fracking. Excelyte is an EPA-approved solution that addresses major controversies associated with fracking: pollution of groundwater with toxic chemicals, release of hydrogen sulfide that endangers oil field worker’s lives, and excess wastewater.Fracking seems to have more going against it than for it, but a South Carolina-based company is hoping the oil and gas industry will mitigate environmental damages and health concerns with its latest product, Excelyte.

Californians face $500 fines for water waste under new restrictions. Measures for water conservation in drought-stricken California are getting tougher. The Water Resources Control Board’s emergency regulation now prohibits watering outdoor landscapes, washing driveways and sidewalks, using a hose to wash cars and turning on outdoor fountains.Residents who do not comply will face a $500 fine and water agencies that fail to comply with the requirements for water conservation will be fined up to $10,000 a day, the board said in a statement.

Wastewater injections trigger series of Oklahoma earthquakes A series of earthquakes in Oklahoma occurring within hours of one another has added evidence to earlier scientific claims that the unusual seismic activity registered in the state recently is caused by fracking-related operations.

Fracking Litigation, involving efforts to ban or limit the process at a local level, is taking place in many areas of the country, with mixed results. Here are a couple of current stories:

Can your town ban fracking? Depends on the state. A judge struck down a fracking ban in Longmont, Colorado Thursday – a victory for oil and gas companies, and a blow to environmentalists trying to halt fracking at the local level. As more and more cities and towns mull fracking bans, courts are weighing in with decisions that vary widely by state.

Texas border fracking standoff: NY court ruling may affect outcome. In a precedent setting decision, New York State’s Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of two towns that cited water concerns when they banned fracking. That ruling is expected to be cited by fracking opponents in Texas who favor local rather than state control.

Under water: The EPA’s struggle to combat pollution. For years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been frustrated in its efforts to pursue hundreds of cases of water pollution – repeatedly tied up in legal fights about exactly what bodies of water it has the authority to monitor and protect.

Colorado River Basin drying up faster than previously thought. Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.

What seafood guzzles the most gas?  What does fuel have to do with seafood? Diesel is the single largest expense for the fishing industry and its biggest source of greenhouse gases. Find out which fish are most fuel intensive, and also learn the fuel footprint of other flesh foods. 

Halliburton fracking spill mystery plagues Ohio waterway. On the morning of June 28, a fire broke out at a Halliburton fracking site in Monroe County, Ohio. As flames engulfed the area, trucks began exploding. Thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals spilled into the Ohio River, which supplies drinking water for millions of residents. More than 70,000 fish died.

Darby Dam

Return to the rivers: Connecticut’s waterways reflect state history. The widely held assumption that Connecticut was complete wilderness when the first European settlers arrived in the early 17th Century is belied by what archaeologists have found along the state’s rivers. Excellent article with good pictures.

Disgust and outrage along New York’s Scajaquada Creek. Two New York state senators are demanding the Department of Environmental Conservation take aggressive action to address sewer overflows that have contaminated Scajaquada Creek. Excellent news video showing results of ineffective environmental control.

Pennsylvania’s complicated groundwater contamination. In places in Pennsylvania, well water is unfit to drink, polluted with iron and manganese, but the source of the contamination is complex. Fracking, coal mining, and natural methane formations in the ground combine to muddle the picture.

Army floats compromise on medical waste area. Representatives of the U.S. Army on Wednesday offered a compromise proposal for an area near a neighborhood trail in Silver Spring where syringes, scalpels and other medical waste were found two years ago.

Could bathroom showers trigger Crohn’s disease?  The bacteria which may be responsible for Crohn’s disease could be lurking in one in 10 showers, scientists at Lancaster University believe.

 

“Zombie” swimming pools are becoming a significant health risk in Florida because mosquitos love them. With thousands upon thousands of neglected swimming pools — or “algae-caked cesspools” as Florida Today calls them — comes an elevated risk of being infected with mosquito-borne viral diseases including dengue fever and chikungunya.

Go North, Young Man

Cupertino. California’s Stevens Creek Reservoir

In one of the many recent pieces about the devastating drought in California, PRI interviewed Peter Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute. Gleick’s forcast for the future includes a predicted population shift. People, of necessity, follow water, and the West and Southwest, our high growth areas, are running out of it. Gleick points out that a fifth of the world’s fresh surface water is in the great lakes. He continues:

With climate change, I think we’re going to see higher and higher temperatures. We’re going to see more extreme events in the western U.S. The climate models suggest unfortunately that the Southwest is going to get drier, not wetter, which is the opposite of what we would like if we had any choice in the matter. I think there will be fundamental changes in agriculture. I think we’re not to be able to afford to spend as much water in the west on agriculture as we currently do. And potentially I think we’re going to see the Midwest and the Northeast begin to advertise, hey, come back home. There’s not as much water in the Southwest, and it’s hotter and hotter in the Southwest, and our climate is increasingly attractive. And that’s going to be a turnaround from the old days when the Southwest advertised and drew people from the Midwest and from the North because of their more attractive climate.

Read the full PRI report here.

Ex-top official of East Orange water agency admits concealing chemical in drinking water. A former top official of the East Orange Water Commission admitted today to conspiring to hide elevated levels of an industrial solvent in drinking water pumped to more than 80,000 residents in the city and neighboring South Orange, state authorities said.

In scarred Chinese Tibetan city, devotion to sanctity of life.  In Yushu, a largely Tibetan city where more than 3,000 people died in an earthquake four years ago, the faithful have been flocking to the Batang River to rescue a minuscule aquatic crustacean that would hardly seem deserving of such attention.

New Easy-Off  Water Filter Housings Make Cartridge Changes Easy

by Gene Franks

Sometimes standard items work so well that it’s hard to see how they can be improved.  This has been the case with what is commonly called the “Big Blue” water filter containers that hold the standard-sized 4.5″ diameter filter cartridges — either 10″ or 20″ in length.

 

Sizes 3 and 4 are “Big Blue” units. (Click for larger image.)

There is now an improvement over the Big Blue that makes cartridge changes easier, makes o-ring replacement usually unnecessary, and virtually assures leak-free cartridge replacement.

Our new Easy-Off housings from Viqua use a unique lock ring seal that simply presses the sump.  With conventional housings, the sump is screwed into the cap by twisting the sump. The lock-ring design does away with the problem of pinched o-rings and o-rings that are flattened by over-tightening.

The picture shows the lock ring held by the wrench.  The ring can actually be hand tightened onto the blue threads of the cap to make a perfect seal.  Only the ring turns; the sump itself does not turn but is pressed tightly against the cap by the tightening of the lock ring.

The advanced housing has other features that set it apart from conventional filter vessels. One very nice feature is a pre-tapped  cap that allows for easy addition of a pressure gauge.  The bottom of the sump is also pre-tapped and capped so that the sump can be drained from the bottom if desired.

A pressure gauge can be easily installed on the cap.

Bottom drain plug can be removed with a screwdriver.

One final note:  The Easy-Off housings work only with radial style cartridges.  They can’t be used for axial  filters.  Radial style includes all carbon blocks and sediment cartridges.  Axials are mainly media cartridges: cartridges with an impermeable outer shell that are usually filled with granular media.  The test is, if you can pick the cartridge up and look through the center hole like a telescope, the new housings will work.  If you can’t see all the way through, the cartridge can’t be used with the new Easy-Off housings.

The new housings are sold with wrench, mounting bracket, and screws, so the only thing more you need to make a whole house filter is a filter cartridge.

Pricing and more details.

 

 Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories.  We also have dedicated parts pages for countertop water filters, undersink filters, and aeration equipment.  We stock parts for everything we sell.

Thank you for reading.  Please come back next week.

Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime.

Garden Hose Filters.  Don’t be the last on your block to own one.

Model 77: “The World’s Greatest $77 Water Filter”

Sprite Shower Filters: You’ll Sing Better!”

An Alphabetical Index to Water Treatment Products

Our famous whole house Chloramine Catcher

Pure Water Occasional Archive: Sept. 2009-April 2013.

Pure Water Occasional Archive: April 2013 to present.

Write to the Gazette or the Occasional:   pwp@purewaterproducts.com

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The Pure Water Gazette – now now with an up-to-the-minute feed of the latest water news.

The Pure Water Occasional

Pure Water Products 

New Easy-Off  Water Filter Housings Make Cartridge Changes Easy

by Gene Franks

Sometimes standard items work so well that it’s hard to see how they can be improved.  This has been the case with what is commonly called the “Big Blue” water filter containers that hold the standard-sized 4.5″ diameter filter cartridges — either 10″ or 20″ in length.

 

Sizes 3 and 4 are “Big Blue” units. (Click for larger image.)

There is now an improvement over the Big Blue that makes cartridge changes easier, makes o-ring replacement usually unnecessary, and virtually assures leak-free cartridge replacement.

Our new Easy-Off housings from Viqua use a unique lock ring seal that simply presses the sump.  With conventional housings, the sump is screwed into the cap by twisting the sump. The lock-ring design does away with the problem of pinched o-rings and o-rings that are flattened by over-tightening.

(more…)

Slamming Shut the Doors 

A excerpt from an extensive Journal Sentinel study of Great Lakes devastation by Zebra and quagga mussels:  How invasive species changed the Great Lakes forever.  

A watershed moment has arrived for the Great Lakes.

After decades of regulatory paralysis, a federal judge has forced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin requiring overseas ships to decontaminate their ballast water before discharging it into the five lakes that together span a surface area the size of the United Kingdom.

Despite their vastness, for thousands of years the inland seas above Niagara Falls were as isolated from the outside world as a Northwoods Wisconsin pond. That all changed in 1959. The U.S. and Canadian governments obliterated the lake’s natural barrier to invasive fish, plants, viruses and mollusks with the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a system of channels, locks and dams that opened the door for ocean freighters to sail up the once-wild St. Lawrence River, around Niagara Falls and into the heart of the continent.

Small boats had access to the lakes since the 1800s thanks to relatively tiny man-made navigation channels stretching in from the East Coast and a canal at Chicago that artificially linked Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River basin. (more…)

Umbra on Rain Barrels

 

The except below is  from Grist’s popular “Ask Umbra” feature.  One rain barrel hazard that Umbra leaves out is getting the Rain Barrel Song in your head.  Once there, it can stay for days. Umbra’s comments  illustrate that owning and using even the simplest of objects can be really complicated.–Hardly Waite.

Rain barrels in general are unequivocally healthy for the planet. Simple systems designed to funnel rainwater from your roof into storage tanks, rain barrels relieve pressure on stormwater systems, reduce the energy used to treat and transport water, and save you roughly 1,300 gallons of tap water per summer. [But, there may be some drawbacks.]

Once it hits your roof, a raindrop may run over and collect a number of contaminants. Everything from roof-treatment chemicals to airborne heavy-metal pollutants to mold to the poop from roosting birds or squirrels may be swept into your clean-looking barrel. So while using the water to irrigate trees, shrubs, and flowers is universally smiled upon, some people get a little queasy about putting it on plants they’ll eventually be eating. Might those rooftop nasties make you sick?

I hate to rain on your parade, but there’s not a lot of research out there to provide a definitive answer. One 2013 study from Rutgers examined rain-barrel water for lead, zinc, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and E. coli bacteria. The water harbored no PAHs and little heavy metals, and most (but not all) samples were also low in bacteria. It is possible to have your runoff tested for contaminants at a local health department or well-water testing facility – but experts at Rutgers say testing thoroughly enough for meaningful results is likely impractical and expensive for home gardens.

What we’re left with then . . . is your personal tolerance for risk. I can tell you that plenty of gardeners do dip into the rain barrel to water their veggies. Experts can tell you the risk is minimal, but the practice is not entirely without peril. You should definitely skip it if your roof is copper or has been treated with chromated copper arsenate or zinc (used to prevent algal growth). If not, though, you must decide for yourself. (more…)

 

The Pure Water Occasional for July 21, 2014

In this full-summer (but rainy in Texas) Occasional, you’ll hear about the predicted rise to prominence of professional water polo, the drought vs. code enforcement dilemma, the causes of beach contamination, food allergies, drug-resistant bacteria, and the fate of lost shipping containers. Water towers with pictures and water towers infested by buzzards. China’s engineer-created water problems and the US military’s ongoing war on water.   Learn why two water softeners are more efficient than one, why the wealthy at Palm Springs are pissed at the Indians, and, as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is a project of Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette. To read this issue on the Gazette’s website,  please go here.

Where Contamination on Beaches Comes From 

Editor’s Note:  Recent water news has been filled with stories about polluted beaches in the US and around the world.  Most sources report the bad news but do little to explain the causes.  We’ve excerpted some information from an excellent article by  Andrea Gelfuso Goetz  from the Denver Post  that gives a good explanation of the reasons for the nation’s dirty beaches. –Hardly Waite. 

A study conducted by the environmental organization NRDS found that as many as 10 percent of U.S. beaches are unsafe for swimming, contaminated with storm-water runoff and sewage overflow that cause illnesses like “stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis, and hepatitis.”

How does raw sewage end up on U.S. beaches? Every time it rains, water running over lawns picks up fertilizer, pesticides and animal waste. Water running over streets and parking lots picks up oil, gas and spilled chemicals. In cities, storm runoff is channeled into sewers that discharge polluted water directly into water bodies, including the river your dog likes to splash in. While some municipal storm water is pumped into sewage treatment plants, they are overwhelmed by heavy storms, so storm water is discharged, untreated, into rivers and lakes. On the coast, storm water is discharged into the ocean, polluting U.S. beaches, sometimes making swimmers sick.

Doesn’t environmental regulation protect us from water pollution? The Environmental Protection Agency sets water quality standards for U.S. waters based on the intended use of each water body. For example, water used for drinking has to meet the toughest standard. Water used for swimming and fishing has to be clean enough so people don’t get sick. The Clean Water Act regulates “point sources” of pollution (water pollution that comes out of pipes), but only weakly regulates “non-point” sources, pollution that is created when water runs over the ground. So we end up with polluted beaches.

But untreated storm water affects more than beaches. The EPA tracks water-quality data for all types of water bodies, including rivers and streams, lakes and reservoirs. Compared to other water bodies, beach water quality is just ducky. While 90 percent of U.S. beaches meet EPA standards, less than half of U.S. rivers and streams are safe for swimming and fishing. What’s worse, only 28 percent of U.S. rivers and streams have been assessed — so we don’t know whether 70 percent of U.S. rivers and streams meet the standards. How about lakes and ponds? Nationally, only 43 percent have been assessed. Of those, 67 percent are “impaired” and don’t meet public health standards. Most disturbing, of the U.S. lakes, reservoirs and ponds used to raise fish for food, 74 percent are impaired.

To see water quality information for all U.S. water bodies, go to the EPA’s website,  click on the science and technology menu, and the waters tab.

Source :  Denver Post.

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Fifteen Million Americans Now Suffer From Food Allergies: Pesticides in Tap Water May Be the Cause

Editor’s Note:  The following is excerpted from an excellent article by Sarah Glynn published in Medical News Today. We would add that the persistent presence of dichlorophenols in tap water provide a strong argument that every home should have an effective carbon drinking water filter. — Hardly Waite.

 

This information was published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), and came from a team of experts led by Elina Jerschow, M.D., M.Sc., ACAAI fellow and allergist. According to the researchers, high levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used to chlorinate water and also used in pesticides, is linked to food allergies when it is found in a person’s body. Dr. Jerschow explained:

Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy. This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water.

Data of 10,438 people from the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006 was analyzed for purpose of the study. Dichlorophenols was found in the urine of 2,548 subjects, but 2,211 were further observed. Results showed that 411 of the 2,211 analyzed had a food allergy, and 1,016 had an environmental allergy. Dr. Jerschow said:

Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States. The results of our study suggest these two trends might be linked, and that increased use of pesticides and other chemicals is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies.

Although drinking bottled water may seem less risky for developing an allergy than drinking water from the tap, the results from this research indicate that making the switch to bottled water may not be effective in preventing allergies. “Other dichlorophenol sources, such as pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables, may play a greater role in causing food allergy,” added Dr. Jerschow. Between 1997 and 2007, food allergy increased by 18%, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). A previous report, published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that 7.5 million Americans have at least one food allergy, and young black children seem to be at the highest risk. The most frequently reported food allergens are:

  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • wheat
  • milk
  • eggs
  • soy
  • shellfish
  • fish

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  Water News for the Week of July 21, 2014

Starting this summer students from the city’s public schools will participate in the Water Tank Project.  The aim of the project is not only to raise the attractiveness of city rooftops, but also to raise awareness of global water issues. In addition to the artwork, the program will include education programs, tours and the Water Tank Project will cover the tanks that top New York City’s buildings with artwork by both professional artists and social media campaigns to help the public learn more about water. 

 Sewage-treatment plants described as giant ‘mixing vessels’ after scientists discover drug-resistant bacteria in British river. Superbugs resistant to some of the most powerful antibiotics in the medical arsenal have been found for the first time in a British river– with scientists pinpointing a local sewage-treatment plant as the most likely source.

In Dayton, Ohio, an economic comeback is in the water. U.S. census numbers reveal that in recent years the population has been virtually flat or shrinking in places like Ohio, Illinois and Michigan, where there’s tons of water. The biggest areas of growth are in the west and southwest, where water scarcity is a growing emergency.

Flattened mountains, poisoned rivers: China’s engineers face off against engineer-created problems. China’s rapid industrialisation has not been accompanied by a respect for the natural environment – but, as pollution problems become so severe that they can no longer be ignored, engineers are beginning to dream up ambitious solutions to problems created by ambitious modernity.

Mussels: Unlocking secrets to what’s in the water. An unusual research study is helping to find many of the underlying causes for contaminated beaches and toxic fish; the very issues making headlines again this month and prompting Gov. Jay Inslee to unveil big new policy initiatives.

Lost Shipping Containers  

There are about 5 to 6 million shipping containers crossing the sea at any time. The United States imports more stuff this way than any other country. That’s nearly 20 million rectangular metal boxes a year that include anything from toxic chemicals to Cheetos.

And, since the blustery sea is indifferent to our humanly possessions, it is estimated that thousands of containers are lost every year along international shipping routes due to big waves or wind gusts. Sometimes they wash up on shore, but what happens to the containers that land at the bottom of the sea? No one really knew. Until now.

To find out what happens to lost containers, read the rest of the article and view a  Huffington Post video.

Drought in California’s Palm Springs Area Draws Attention to Nestlé Plant on Morongo Reservation

As California’s drought worsens, some residents living near the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in the Coachella Valley west of Palm Springs are directing their ire at the tribe for its leasing of land to a Nestlé plant.

The plant draws water from the tribe’s springs in Millard Canyon. As water woes increase in a desert region where all aquifers are declining, tensions are rising among some residents who live near the reservation. They question the Morongo Nation’s right to sell water to Nestlé Waters North America.

“Why is it possible to take water from a drought area, bottle it and sell it?” asked Linda Ivey, a real estate appraiser from the nearby city of Palm Desert, in a story that appeared in the Desert Sun on July 15. “We’ve got to protect what little water supply we have.”

It’s important to note that the Coachella Valley maintains 124 golf courses, one of the largest concentrations of courses in the nation, according to the Desert Sun. And homes in nearby Palm Springs use twice the amount of water as the average home, Agence France-Presse reported in 2012.

Read the full story from the Indian Media Today website.

 

Occasional Predicts: Professional Water Polo Will Rise to the Top as a Spectator Sport

Unfortunately, professional water polo has been shunned for so long that the sport’s leaders now fear for its survival. That is not the conclusion one might come to at the Margaret Island Aquatics Complex, which has been outfitted with 8,000 seats and fills to capacity on most nights, especially when hosts and world champions Hungary play.

It is quite unfair that  water polo gets so little attention.  Most Americans, a recent poll indicated, are hard pressed to name more than half a dozen current water polo stars.   The Occasional predicts that this will all change—that water polo is the sport of the future. For doubters, we remind you of the rapid rise to prominence of the garden hose pull, a sporting event that was hardly known outside Minnesota just a few short years ago.

Budapest’s Six-Story Swimming Complex,  a hotbed of Water Polo activity.

In other water sports activity this week, in spite of their lack of experience at the sport, the Southern Tree Service LimbWalkers, “screaming with each downward chop,” won by half a paddle length over the Beaufort Water and Sewer Authority Sewer Ratz in Saturday’s Annual 59th Beaufort Water Festival Raft Race. See details.

 

In spite of persistent efforts to get rid of them, black vultures have taken the water tower of the city of Lake Alford, Florida as their home.

According to the RightWingNews website, a Southern California couple who scaled back watering due to drought received a letter from the city of Glendora warning that they could face fines if they don’t get their brown lawn green again. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports the letter from the code enforcement bureau says the dry grass could be a ‘potential public nuisance problem.’ Michael Korte and his wife Laura Whitney were told if they don’t revive the lawn they could be hit with up to $500 in fines and possible criminal action.

 Military Water Pollution–A National Disgrace

“Almost every military site in this country is seriously contaminated,” said John D. Dingell, a soon-to-retire Michigan congressman who served in World War II. “Lejeune is one of many.”

Over the years, the US military has been the unquestioned leader in water pollution.  Newsweek for 7-25-14, cover pictured above, features an excellent study by Alexander Nazaryan of the military’s environmental crimes over recent decades, concentrating on Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.   As the article points out, however, Camp Lejeune is only a small part of the ugly picture of the US military’s war on the environment.

These military sites form a sort of toxic archipelago across the land: Kelly Air Force Base in Texas, where the Air Force allegedly dumped trichloroethylene (TCE) into the soil, part of what some residents call a “toxic triangle” in south-central Texas; McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento, California, which includes not only fuel plumes and industrial solvents but also radioactive waste; Umatilla Chemical Depot in the plains of northern Oregon, where mustard gas and VX nerve gas were stored; Rocky Mountain Arsenal, a onetime sarin stockpile just north of Denver; the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod, poisoned by explosives and perchlorate, a rocket fuel component that is emerging as a major Pentagon pollutant. But because Camp Lejeune’s abuses and betrayals are more flagrant, it has become a test case for whether the military can defend our soil without ruining it.

Here is a cut from Newsweek’s detailed study,  which we urge you to read in its entirety.  It focuses on one of many health problems, male breast cancer,  caused by the military’s lack of environmental concern.

Men With Mastectomy Scars

Camp Lejeune, built in 1941, is 240 square miles in area, making it the largest Marine base east of the Mississippi River, and the second largest in the nation after Camp Pendleton, near San Diego. Situated at the swampy mouth of the New River, it is an ideal training ground for the sorts of amphibious assaults that are the Marines’ favored means of arriving at the war dance. From here, leathernecks shipped out to the Pacific theater of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The Marines killed in the 1983 terrorist bombings of a barracks in Beirut had also come from Lejeune; a memorial to them sits in a wooded glade at the camp’s edge.

In the decade before Camp Lejeune was built, the chemical industry saw the advent of the “safety solvents” TCE and tetrachloroethylene (PCE). These were chemical cleaning agents of the organochlorine group: TCE was a degreaser for machine parts; PCE was used in dry cleaning.

A military base is rife with machines. This sounds obvious, but it’s quite striking when you see all those tanks and airplanes and amphibious vehicles that seem perfectly poised for battle, even on a humid North Carolina afternoon when overseas wars might as well be waged in another galaxy. Part of that readiness is cleanliness, which your average military mechanic would have achieved, until very recently, by washing grease-covered parts in TCE.In 2004, a former Marine named Joseph Paliotti decided to clear his conscience. He was on the verge of perishing from cancer, and he suspected that Camp Lejeune had something to do with it. He had spent 16 years working on the base. “We’d come down there, we used to dump it: DDT, cleaning fluid, batteries, transformers, vehicles,” he told his local television station. “I knew sooner or later something was gonna happen.” Several days later, Paliotti died.

The cleaning of clothes might seem like a more innocuous matter, but that’s only because most people don’t have much of a notion of how a dry cleaning enterprise works. You surrender your clothes; they return immaculate. Magic! As it happens, the chemicals that cleanse a shirt are about as carcinogenic as those that cleanse an airplane engine.

One of the places at Camp Lejeune that could care for your uniform was ABC One Hour Cleaners, which sits just a few yards from the edge of the base. The dry cleaners, which started operation in 1964 and ended on-site cleaning service in 2005, did nothing different from what thousands of other dry cleaners did around the United States: It used PCE as a cleaning solvent. Some of the PCE sludge was used to fill potholes, while much of the liquid waste ended up in the ground, just like the TCE used to clean machines across the road, behind the barbed wire.

The TCE and PCE percolated through the sandy soil of Camp Lejeune and into the shallow Castle Hayne aquifer, from which the base drew its water. Also flowing into the soil was benzene from the Hadnot Point fuel farm. A component of gasoline, benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon. Its name does not mean that it is pleasantly pungent. Instead, the deceptively alluring adjective refers to the strong carbon-hydrogen latticework of the compound. Like other aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene is a carcinogen that readily enters the body.

An Associated Press report found that as “late as spring 1988, the underground tanks at Hadnot Point were leaking about 1,500 gallons of fuel a month—a total of more than 1.1 million gallons, by some estimates.” Eventually, the leaked fuel would form an underground layer 15 feet deep, a carcinogenic band essentially covering the aquifer from which the drinking water was drawn.

Among those who drank that water was Mike Partain, who was born on base. His father was a Marine, as was his grandfather. He lived in the same housing complex where the Ensmingers conceived their daughter Janey. He joined the Navy but was discharged because of a debilitating rash that would overtake his body without explanation. Eventually, Partain ended up in Tallahassee, Florida, where he was a teacher and, later, an insurance adjuster.

Then married with four children, Partain was in good health until the age of 39. (He has since divorced; “my marriage didn’t survive Lejeune,” he told me.) Toxins, like terrorist sleeper cells, are patient. As he would later write for the website of Semper Fi, a documentary about Camp Lejeune, in April 2007 “my wife gave me a hug before bed one night. As she did, her hand came across a curious bump situated above my right nipple. There was no pain, but it felt very odd.” Partain went for tests, which revealed an almost incredible diagnosis: breast cancer.

Male breast cancer is rare enough in the general population, especially for someone like Partain who has no history of the disease in his family. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, only about 7 breast cancer victims out of 1,000 are men. Yet it turned out that many other men who’d lived on Camp Lejeune had developed breast cancer: Partain told me that he knows of 85 victims. Several of these aging men, showing mastectomy scars, posed for a 2011 calendar.

Coincidences do happen, even in cancer epidemiology. What looks like obvious causation to some may be just cruel fate, but the overall infrequency of the disease, combined with its relatively high frequency among the men of Camp Lejeune, as well as the other ailments plaguing those who lived on the base, made clear that there was a connection. “This has all the characteristics of a male breast cancer cluster,” the noted epidemiologist Richard Clapp said at the time. Camp Lejeune is, in fact, now widely believed to be the largest known cluster of the male variant of the disease.

Source:  Newsweek.

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 Twin Tank Water Softeners Are the Most Efficient Softeners Made

One of the most underrated “green” products available is the twin tank water softener.

Although the initial cost is more, twin softeners can pay for themselves in water and salt savings. They also offer the satisfaction of being the most environmentally friendly of conventional water softeners. A twin softener is essentially two identically-sized water softener resin tanks joined and controlled by a single softener valve. The control valve can be either a timer or a metered regeneration style, with metered being strongly preferred for this type softener.

To dispel a common misconception about twin softening units, the two tanks work one at a time. That is, you don’t get double softening. A single softener tank is more than adequate to reduce the hardness of most residential water to virtual zero. The twin unit operates by keeping one of its tanks in reserve. When the capacity of tank one is reached, the control valve immediately puts tank two into service, so that there can never be a time when hard water is being sent to the home, as can happen with single tank softeners. Even when a tank is being regenerated, soft water is being delivered to the home. And, unlike the single tank unit, twin units use soft water for regeneration.  This, too, makes the softener more efficient and adds to the life of its treatment resin.

Since the switch from one tank to the other can be made at any time of the day or night, no “reserve” needs to be programmed into the softener. With conventional one-tank units, a certain amount of the tank’s capacity–usually about one day’s expected usage–is always held in reserve. This is accomplished by simply programming the softener to regenerate a day early. By conservative estimate, this “reserve” requirement is responsible for about 15% of the salt and water used by a single-tank softener. Simple arithmetic tells you that if a softener that regenerates once a week always regenerates one day early, in a year it will simply throw away 48 days worth of its softening capacity. And what is really being tossed away is water and salt.  And money.

Applications Twin tank units are especially good for applications that require a long, uninterrupted supply of soft water. For example, if a softener is used to pretreat hard water for a large reverse osmosis unit, it is difficult to assure that the reverse osmosis unit will not demand water when the softener is regenerating. A twin tank unit solves this problem by providing a never ending supply of soft water. One of our local customers is a yogurt store that needs to protect its expensive yogurt machines from scaling. Yogurt machines run around the clock and it would be very impractical to turn them off so that a conventional water softener can regenerate its resin bed. A twin softener is a perfect solution. It provides an endless supply of treated water with fully automatic operation with no need to maintain a “reserve.”  Twin softeners are the most water and salt efficient softeners made. They regenerate less frequently because no “reserve” capacity has to be calculated. They have the added advantage of performing the regeneration with softened water, assuring a cleaner and more complete regeneration. Twin softeners are especially useful for applications requiring long service cycles that need an uninterrupted supply of soft water.

 Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories.

Thank you for reading.  Please come back next week.

 Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime.

Garden Hose Filters.  Don’t be the last on your block to own one.

Model 77: “The World’s Greatest $77 Water Filter”

Sprite Shower Filters: You’ll Sing Better!”

An Alphabetical Index to Water Treatment Products

Our famous whole house Chloramine Catcher

Pure Water Occasional Archive: Sept. 2009-April 2013.

Pure Water Occasional Archive: April 2013 to present.

Write to the Gazette or the Occasional:   pwp@purewaterproducts.com

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 Military Water Pollution–A National Disgrace

“Almost every military site in this country is seriously contaminated,” said John D. Dingell, a soon-to-retire Michigan congressman who served in World War II. “Lejeune is one of many.”

Over the years, the US military has been the unquestioned leader in water pollution.  Newsweek for 7-25-14, cover pictured above, features an excellent study by Alexander Nazaryan of the military’s environmental crimes over recent decades, concentrating on Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.   As the article points out, however, Camp Lejeune is only a small part of an ugly picture of the US military’s war on the environment.

These military sites form a sort of toxic archipelago across the land: Kelly Air Force Base in Texas, where the Air Force allegedly dumped trichloroethylene (TCE) into the soil, part of what some residents call a “toxic triangle” in south-central Texas; McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento, California, which includes not only fuel plumes and industrial solvents but also radioactive waste; Umatilla Chemical Depot in the plains of northern Oregon, where mustard gas and VX nerve gas were stored; Rocky Mountain Arsenal, a onetime sarin stockpile just north of Denver; the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod, poisoned by explosives and perchlorate, a rocket fuel component that is emerging as a major Pentagon pollutant. But because Camp Lejeune’s abuses and betrayals are more flagrant, it has become a test case for whether the military can defend our soil without ruining it.

Here is an excerpt from a detailed study which we urge you to read in its entirety.  It focuses on one of many health problems, male breast cancer,  caused by the military’s lack of environmental concern. (more…)

 Twin Tank Water Softeners Are the Most Efficient Softeners Made

One of the most underrated “green” products available is the twin tank water softener. Although the initial cost is more, twin softeners can pay for themselves in water and salt savings. They also offer the satisfaction of being the most environmentally friendly of conventional water softeners.

A twin softener is essentially two identically-sized water softener resin tanks joined and controlled by a single softener valve. The control valve can be either a timer or a metered regeneration style, with metered being strongly preferred for this type softener.

To dispel a common misconception about twin softening units, the two tanks work one at a time. That is, you don’t get double softening. A single softener tank is more than adequate to reduce the hardness of most residential water to virtual zero. The twin unit operates by keeping one of its tanks in reserve. When the capacity of tank one is reached, the control valve immediately puts tank two into service, so that there can never be a time when hard water is being sent to the home, as can happen with single tank softeners. Even when a tank is being regenerated, soft water is being delivered to the home. And, unlike the single tank unit, twin units use soft water for regeneration.

Since the switch from one tank to the other can be made at any time of the day or night, no “reserve” needs to be programmed into the softener. With conventional one-tank units, a certain amount of the tank’s capacity–usually about one day’s expected usage–is always held in reserve. This is accomplished by simply programming the softener to regenerate a day early. By conservative estimate, this “reserve” requirement is responsible for about 15% of the salt and water used by a single-tank softener. Simple arithmetic tells you that if a softener that regenerates once a week always regenerates one day early, in a year it will simply throw away 48 days worth of its softening capacity. And what is really being tossed away is water and salt. (more…)

 

 Acute water crisis looms in Gaza, aid agencies warn

by Stephanie Nebehay

Editor’s Note: One of the very dirtiest forms of warfare is to attack civilian populations  by destroying water infrastructure.  If the report below is correct, Israel appears to have sunk as low as the US and Great Britain, who in the years preceding the first US attack on Iraq destroyed the country’s water infrastructure with bombs, then purposely prevented repairs by sanctioning the import of parts needed to fix water and sewage plants as well as such essential water treatment items as chlorine.  As a result, tens of thousands of Iraqis, and especially Iraqi children under five, died of easily preventable waterborne diseases.  Warfare of this type is simply an indirect application of biological warfare, which civilized nations claim to abhor. See “A Prayer for Water & Children” which is archived on the Gazette’s old website.–Hardly Waite.

GENEVA (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of Gazans are without water after Israeli air strikes that have wrecked the water and sewage system and the whole strip is threatened with a water crisis within days, aid agencies warned on Tuesday.

The eight-day assault has caused massive damage to infrastructure and destroyed at least 560 homes, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said.

“Within days, the entire population of the Strip may be desperately short of water,” Jacques de Maio, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Israel and the occupied territories, said in a statement.

If hostilities continue, just as temperatures soar in the region, “the question is not if but when an already beleaguered population will face an acute water crisis”, he said. (more…)

Where Contamination on Beaches Comes From

 

Editor’s Note:  Recent water news has been filled with stories about polluted beaches in the US and around the world.  Most of  these report the bad news but do little to explain the causes.  We’ve excerpted some information from an excellent article by  Andrea Gelfuso Goetz that appeared in the Denver Post  that gives a good explanation of the how and why of the nation’s dirty beaches. –Hardly Waite. 

A study conducted by the environmental organization NRDS found that as many as 10 percent of U.S. beaches are unsafe for swimming, contaminated with storm-water runoff and sewage overflow that cause illnesses like “stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis, and hepatitis.”

How does raw sewage end up on U.S. beaches?

Every time it rains, water running over lawns picks up fertilizer, pesticides and animal waste. Water running over streets and parking lots picks up oil, gas and spilled chemicals. In cities, storm runoff is channeled into sewers that discharge polluted water directly into water bodies, including the river your dog likes to splash in.

While some municipal storm water is pumped into sewage treatment plants, they are overwhelmed by heavy storms, so storm water is discharged, untreated, into rivers and lakes. On the coast, storm water is discharged into the ocean, polluting U.S. beaches, sometimes making swimmers sick.

Doesn’t environmental regulation protect us from water pollution? The Environmental Protection Agency sets water quality standards for U.S. waters based on the intended use of each water body. For example, water used for drinking has to meet the toughest standard. Water used for swimming and fishing has to be clean enough so people don’t get sick.

The Clean Water Act regulates “point sources” of pollution (water pollution that comes out of pipes), but only weakly regulates “non-point” sources, pollution that is created when water runs over the ground. So we end up with polluted beaches.

But untreated storm water affects more than beaches. The EPA tracks water-quality data for all types of water bodies, including rivers and streams, lakes and reservoirs. Compared to other water bodies, beach water quality is just ducky. While 90 percent of U.S. beaches meet EPA standards, less than half of U.S. rivers and streams are safe for swimming and fishing. What’s worse, only 28 percent of U.S. rivers and streams have been assessed — so we don’t know whether 70 percent of U.S. rivers and streams meet the standards.

How about lakes and ponds? Nationally, only 43 percent have been assessed. Of those, 67 percent are “impaired” and don’t meet public health standards.

Most disturbing, of the U.S. lakes, reservoirs and ponds used to raise fish for food, 74 percent are impaired.

To see water quality information for all U.S. water bodies, go to the EPA’s website,  click on the science and technology menu, and the waters tab.

Source :  Denver Post.

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