Saturday, June 19, 2004


Lead and the Corrosion It Leaves Behind -- What the Washington, D.C., Case Taught Us

Recent events in Washington, D.C. regarding lead contamination have created an enormous amount of concern, controversy, and reflection on the frailty of our nation’s drinking water supplies. Perhaps the overwhelming reaction was a bit exaggerated, considering it happened at the hub of the media world when it comes to pack journalism. In spite of this, no one can argue that this is yet another validation of the potential risk consumers face with drinking water...

Click here to view additional information: 0604 Water Matters.pdf

Friday, June 18, 2004


11 more tainted wells found, detected levels of MTBE

Testing of wells in a Harford County community has found a potentially cancer-causing chemical in the drinking water of at least 11 more homes and businesses, bringing to 28 the total so far affected by a suspected leak from a nearby Exxon service station.
County, state and oil company officials, meanwhile, sought to assure anxious residents of the Upper Crossroads area that they were moving swiftly to identify the extent and source of the contamination -- and to provide them with clean bottled or filtered water.
Read the whole story


Yarn company agrees to pay fine for polluting Lowell river in Mass.

(Worcester Telegram, 06/14) "A Lowell yarn maker agreed to pay a $300,000 fine Monday after federal environmental regulators filed a criminal complaint against the company for negligently discharging pollutants into a river without a permit."


UC Irvine study finds chemical not as harmful as state EPA says

(San Diego Union Tribune, 06/12) "Perchlorate may not pose a health risk to people at levels considered dangerous by California scientists, according to a University of California, Irvine study."


Millions of gallons of water plunge over Shoshone Falls

(KTVB, 06/14) "Despite years of drought and another dry summer predicted, water was flowing freely in the Magic Valley Saturday,even if just for an hour."


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Nitrates plague New Mexico subdivision

(Odessa American, 06/10) "A subdivision in northern Socorro County has dangerously high levels of nitrates in the ground water."


Current western drought beats dust bowl

(Tri-Valley Herald, 06/17) "The drought gripping the West could be the worst in 500 years, with effects in the Colorado River basin even worse than during the Dust Bowl years, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey say."

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


Patchwork levee system

Patchwork levee system


By Juliana Barbassa

Associated Press

FRESNO - A levee break in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has endangered one of the state's most important sources of water, reminding Californians that the network of walls that protect them, their crops and their water supply is vulnerable and under-funded.

``There is always a concern that one of the levees is going to let go,'' said Don Strickland of the state Department of Water Resources.

A 500-foot section in the Jones Tract Levee near Stockton broke Thursday morning, flooding miles of low-lying farmland. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger toured the area by air on Saturday, a day after he declared a state of emergency and offered financial assistance. Authorities said it would take at least 45 days to repair the levee and pump out the water.

About 6,000 miles of levees -- a patchwork of walls built as far back as the 1850s -- hold back water in a complicated plumbing system that allows farming below sea level in the delta. The system sends water to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley and drinking water to about 22 million users as far south as Los Angeles.

But as essential as the levees are to the state, the vast majority of them -- about 4,300 miles -- are in private hands. Their maintenance depends on the resources of the landowners, and there are no maintenance requirements or other standards they have to meet, said state Sen. Michael Machado, D-Stockton, a water expert who toured the site.

Owners try to maintain the barriers by following guidelines set by the state and the U.S. Corps of Engineers for the 1,700 miles of publicly maintained levees, but their ability to do so is limited by their own resources, and impaired by dwindling state assistance.

``As long as the weather's dry, nobody worries about it,'' Machado said.

In 2000, the California Bay-Delta Program, a state-federal partnership created to resolve the state's water disputes, estimated that governments and water districts would need to spend about $187 million by 2004 to restore levees. Less than a third of that amount, $58 million, has been spent so far.

Federal contributions to the program have been limited to $400,000, and the state's portion diminished from $29 million in 2000-2001 to $3.6 million this year.

The delicate weave of narrow channels in the delta balances fresh water from the San Joaquin and the Sacramento rivers with the salty water that reaches in from the San Francisco Bay. That equilibrium is upset when a levee breaks, endangering not only the farms and homes in the way of the flood, but the quality of the water on which the state depends.

A state water official said he was ``cautiously optimistic'' about maintaining water quality in the case of the Jones Tract levee breech.

``We are confident we can address the potential water quality concerns with minimal effects,'' said Curtis Creel of the Department of Water Resources.

But instances like this -- when a levee breaks during the dry season without added pressure from rainfall -- show how vulnerable the system is, Machado said.

This same tract of land was inundated in 1980, and the last time there was a flood not caused by weather was 1982. But wet weather overwhelmed levees and ravaged the Central Valley in 1986, and in 1997, when six people died and 120,000 were forced to leave their homes.

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Quote for Today:

"Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness,'
but it doesn't work.”

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


"Lead Free Drinking Water Act"

American Water Works Association Comments on introduction of "Lead Free Drinking Water Act"

Source: American Water Works Association

Denver, CO -- Today, Tuesday, May 4, Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT) introduced legislation designed to enhance the frequency with which water utilities across the country test for high levels of lead and perhaps revise the national standard for lead in drinking water. Below are comments from AWWA Executive Director Jack Hoffbuhr.
The American Water Works Association and its member utilities are committed to protecting public health through the provision of safe drinking water and support regulation that furthers that goal.

The Lead and Copper Rule established in 1991 has been largely effective in limiting lead exposure at consumer taps. Based on available data, AWWA agrees with U.S. EPA that the elevated lead levels experienced in Washington D.C. are not common nationwide. However, water utilities are learning from the Washington D.C. situation and examining their own corrosion control and public communication programs.

Lead in drinking water almost never comes from the treatment plant or water mains. It usually comes from lead service lines, home plumbing or home fixtures, as water corrodes lead materials and solders over a period of time. Therefore, the best way to prevent lead contamination throughout a community is through an effective corrosion control program.

Any adjustment to the Lead and Copper Rule should be made based upon facts and the very best science available. AWWA will work closely with EPA and other agencies to ensure that America drinking water supply continues to be among the safest drinking water in the world.”

AWWA is the authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of drinking water in North America and beyond. AWWA is the largest organization of water professionals in the world. AWWA advances public health, safety and welfare by uniting the efforts of the full spectrum of the drinking water community. Through our collective strength we become better stewards of water for the greatest good of the people and the environment.

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Boil-water alert ordered for 118,000 users

BOCA RATON, FL — The city's 118,000 water customers are being asked to boil their drinking water until May 29, following a burst water main at the city's water treatment plant, the Palm Beach Post reported.

A 48-inch artery exploded May 26, just hours after it had been welded together. Workmen repaired the burst pipe the next day, but the boil water alert remains in effect.

The chance of contamination is very slim, utility services director Michael Woika said in the article, but water pressure in some water lines dropped so low that impurities could have seeped in through fissures in the underground pipes.

Boca Raton provides water for its own 80,000 residents as well as for western county residents living out to the Florida's Turnpike. This is Boca Raton's second citywide boil water alert in as many years, the article stated.

To read the full story, Click Here

Article from Water Technology magazine.(

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