Jun 25

How to Read Your Water Quality Report – EPA

Reading Your Water Quality Report

From coast to coast, the news has been awash with reports of consumers kicking the bottled water habit and taking back the tap. People are catching on to the industry‚ marketing con job. They now know that bottled water is an overpriced rip-off that‚ no more pure or healthful than tap water. Furthermore, its production and transportation gobbles energy and spews pollution and climate-changing gases into our atmosphere.

If youre among the growing mass of people making the move to tap water, perhaps you have questions about the quality of your city or town‚ water supply. Although most municipal water beats the stuff in the bottle, learning more about it makes sense.

We all have the right to know what‚ in our drinking water. Congress codified this principle in 1996 with amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The changes greatly improve public access to information about drinking water quality.

The Safe Drinking Water Act, passed in 1976, authorized EPA to set drinking water standards for all public water systems. Water utilities monitor and treat drinking water to abide by these federal standards. The 1996 amendments added a requirement for utilities to notify the public about any detected regulated contaminant and any water quality violation.

The centerpiece of these right-to-know provisions is the annual water quality report. Although these reports are intended to help consumers make informed choices about their drinking water, they can be confusing and full of jargon. This guide is intended to help you understand what your water quality report is and how to interpret what it tells you.

What Is a Water Quality Report?

A water quality report, also called a consumer confidence report, lets you know what contaminants, if any, are in your drinking water and how these contaminants may affect your health. It lists all the regulated toxicants that were detected in your water over the preceding calendar year.

Who Gets a Water Quality Report?

A water quality report is available for every customer of a community water system, which is one that provides year-round service to more than 15 households or more than 25 people.

When Is a Water Quality Report Issued?

You should receive your water quality report by July 1 of each year.

What Does a Water Quality Report Tell You?

Every water quality report must contain certain information:

  • The source of the drinking water, be it a river, lake, groundwater aquifer or some other body of water;
  • A brief summary of the state‚ source water assessment of the susceptibility of the source water to contamination and how to get a copy of the complete assessment;
  • EPA regulations and health goals for drinking water contaminants;
  • A list of all detected contaminants and their levels;
  • Potential health effects of any contaminant detected at a level that violates EPA‚ health standard;
  • An educational statement for people with weakened immune systems about cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants;1
  • Contact information for the water system and EPA‚ Safe Drinking Water Hotline

Why Is a Water Quality Report Important?

Your water system must tell you about any violation of EPA water quality standards at the time it occurs and again in the annual report. You should not drink water that fails to meet EPA standards because it may be unsafe. Thankfully, public utilities have worked hard to improve water quality, and today, more than 90 percent of water systems meet all EPA regulations.

Another important part of the report is the list of all detected regulated contaminants. EPA sets the maximum level of contaminants — the MCL — that it will allow in drinking water based on the filtering and treatment capabilities of today‚ technology. The water quality report also tells you about potentially harmful substances found in your water at levels below their legal limit, which often is or approaches the agency‚ more stringent, optimum human health goal for the maximum level of contaminants, the MCLG.

How Is a Water Quality Report Distributed?

This depends on the size of the water system. All large water systems mail out the reports, often as an insert in the bill, and very large systems must both mail and post them online. Small systems serving fewer than 10,000 people can have the mailing requirement waived. In this case, however, they must publish the report in at least one local newspaper and make it available to the public upon request.

Water systems also must make a “good faith effort” to reach renters, workers and other consumers who do not receive water bills. These systems should use a combination of different outreach methods, such as posting the reports online, mailing them and advertising in local newspapers.

More information is available online at www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/index.html. For general queries about water quality reports and other safe drinking water issues, you can contact EPA‚ Safe Drinking Water Hotline toll-free at 1-800-426-4791.

Printable Guide

Download the printable How to Read Your Water Quality Report for this easy to read chart:

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Endnotes

1 This section does not indicate if these microbes are in your drinking water. EPA requires that utilities remove 99 percent of cryptosporidium.

2 Most types of coliform bacteria are harmless, but they indicate possible fecal contamination, which can carry disease-causing viruses and organisms.

Source: foodandwaterwatch.org

Jun 21

Gas Drilling Disrupts Lives, Endangers Health in Bradford County, PA

by Iris Marie Bloom

 

Black Water and Brazenness: Life in Shale Country is the first article in a series, “Bradford Blues: Gas Drilling Disrupts Lives, Endangers Health in Bradford County, PA,” based on interviews with residents in 2011.

In the streaming gold-green light of June, Bradford County’s rolling hills fill the soul with a sense of sweetness.  But the beauty of a chestnut horse glowing against a green field on the high side of one road is marred by the huge fracking pit down a low hill on the other side.

Fracking pits are multi-million gallon earthen impoundments, lined with easily punctured plastic sheets, often filled with “flowback,” gas drilling waste with numerous toxic fracking chemicals. Flowback also includes dangerous materials which are harmless deep down in the shale but are brought up by drilling and fracking processes. These contaminants include arsenic, barium, and the intensely radioactive radium 226, which causes lung and bone cancer and has a half-life of 1,600 years.

 

Fracking Fumes, Bad Water, and Namelessness 

Local people such as Monika Osborn worry about the proximity of gas drilling operations to schools, waterways, and to their own homes.  ”I’m surrounded by 28 gas wells,” Osborn said last weekend, referring to them as “monsters.”  She said she was “nearly suffocated” by a wave of fumes coming from a drilling operation last week.  Osborn, who has refused to sign a lease, mentions quietly that she is losing her hair, but hasn’t reported this to any authorities. Mistrust of the industry, of the PA Deparment of Environmental Protection (DEP), and of everyone in government who is supposed to be looking out for people’s health and well-being, runs rampant in Bradford County, as I found out early. …………………..

Read the story in its entirety at:

http://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/black-water-and-brazenness-gas-drilling-disrupts-lives-endangers-health-in-bradford-county-pa/

 

“The brazenness, the lies, the immorality of it knocks you off your feet, to take away people’s water and not repace it,” said Osborn.

Jody and Jason’s family can’t shower safely at home or provide the animals drinking water from their own well.  As a recent study by researchers at Duke University pointed out, the health consequences of human exposure to high levels of methane through ingestion and skin contact has yet to be studied.

Black water, gray water, fizzy water, flaming water…. What the frack is going on when people don’t have clean, safe water in Pennsylvania in the year 2011?

Truck, one of thousands, Bradford County PA June 2011

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Jun 20

Do I Need A Water Filter?

Do I need a water filter?

Never before has the need been greater for quality home water purification.

dirty-water
Water pollution remains one of the most visible and persistent signs of our impact on the natural world. Cleanup of some older pollutants has been offset by new contaminants that threaten freshwater ecosystems and foul our drinking water.

America’s tap water is contaminated with toxic heavy metals, synthetic organic chemicals, chlorination by-products, biological parasites and virtually thousands of harmful contaminants.

“E.P.A. reports show that U.S. water supplies contain over 2300 cancer causing chemicals…” — Ralph Nader Research Group

Studies also show that bottled water isn’t any purer than tap water, it simply costs more. Most quality home water purification products can provide water far superior to bottled water, at a fraction of the cost and in the convenience of your own home. The intention of this site is to promote the use of home water filtration, show what products are available and how to determine which ones are the best. Our goal is to also increase basic awareness of this critically important subject.

In America’s highly industrialized society we use over 80,000 toxic chemicals every day, and over 1000 new ones are being developed every year. We are learning the hard way that all of the chemicals we use, will ultimately show up in the water we drink. There is no “new water”, this planet keeps recycling the same water over and over. As we use more synthetic chemicals, the levels in our water supplies increases proportionately.

In contrast to popular belief, our water treatment facilities were not designed to take out synthetic organic chemicals and toxic heavy metals like lead. Municipal water treatment today is essentially the same as it was over 100 years ago, the water is flown through sand beds to remove visible particles and then bleach (chlorine) is added to kill most of the bacteria! We do not filter out the synthetic chemicals!

75 years ago, before all of these chemicals were present in our environment, 1 out of 50 Americans would get cancer in their lives… now, 1 in 3 Americans… 1 in 2 males, will become cancer victims! 1 in 8 women get breast cancer, childhood cancers have increased 300% in just the last 20 years… and much of this can be linked to the accumulation of man made chemicals in our body.

Cancer is not natural, it’s a man made disease, and for the most part… completely preventable. The purity of our water is one of the most critical factors in the prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases. Water is our body’s only means of purifying its self. If our water already contains chemical contaminants, our body is not able to use it to its full benefit. When the risk is so great and the solution is so simple… why chance it?

In-home water purification is the most effective, by far the most convenient and most economical means of providing clean, healthy water for you and your family.

“Healthy water” is the best health insurance we can get… and home water purification is the best way to get it… possibly the only way.