What Does “Water Safe To Drink” Mean? Some Found Out Too Late


After 34 years of waiting, the Environmental Protection Agency broke ground on a $40 million decontamination plant on an old paint company lot in the city of Industry, CA in the San Gabriel Valley.  The company responsible for the contamination was Northrop Grumman. This new facility, one of thirty-two recently built in the valley, takes contaminated water out of the water table and puts it through a process known as reverse osmosis before returning it to the water flood control canals … then back into the ground.  According to an article in the San Gabriel Vally Tribune, “The largest of three new plants, will treat five square miles of underground pollution and produce clean drinking water at a rate of 2,000 gallons per minute …”     But what is “clean drinking water?”

The San Gabriel Valley was hit particularly hard with pollution from industries that dumped toxins into the ground.  Five companies that were responsible for dumping chemical toxins that have decimated the water supplies in the area were Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc.; Chemical Waste Management; Allied Waste Industries, Inc. (for Azusa Land Reclamation, Inc., a closed landfill on the Azusa-Irwindale border); Winco Enterprises, Inc (in care of Parker Hannifin Corp.); and Hartwell Corp.  They are now part of a massive cleanup project that has crippled water supplies in California which was already under pressure from decades of drought.

Northrop Grumman also has problems in other parts of the country.  It is now part of a federal lawsuit brought by a family in Long Island, NY, most of them stricken with rare cancers.  Their claim is that Grumman contaminated the water beneath them causing a “plume of toxins” that has expanded over the years.   While it was not uncommon for big companies to dump harmful chemicals into the land, what is just as reprehensible is that those who monitored the water supply informed residents that there were no dangers.  According to an article in the NY Post:

But it also dumped carcinogens on land which later became the community park — where kids like Christopher [now has cancer] spent years playing Little League and attending summer camp. Last year, officials found radon gas in Bethpage schools.

Authorities say Bethpage’s water is safe. But residents scoffed at a 2013 state Department of Environmental Conservation study which found Bethpage cancer rates were similar to surrounding areas.

Officials have monitored and treated local water and public drinking wells since the 1970s, said the DEC, which said the state expanded efforts, and is using new technologies, to battle “the plume.”

But as new carcinogens are identified, it casts doubt on past water remediation at the longtime Superfund site, said lawyer Nicholas Rigano, who reps the family.

Long Island has a number of non-profit initiatives set up to monitor water quality, identify contributors to pollution and promote grants to improve water quality.  It may be too late to save the tap water, but it is a start at preventing the pollution from spreading even further.

Even in New England, where water quality is a growing problem, we see municipal water providers claiming that the water is safe … but is it?  How do you know?  That is a difficult question to answer and people across the country are wondering if the water that comes from the tap is safe for consumption.  The quick answer is “no, tap water is not safe and I would not allow my family to drink it.”

The Environmental Protection Agency sets the standards for drinking water through the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR).  One of the problems with the standard is that it lists 91 potential water contaminants that it regulates. But there are more than 60,000 chemicals used within the U.S., many of which have been identified as probable carcinogens. In addition, water run off and contaminates that are put into the sewage systems (flushed) present an unknown level of prescription drugs, disease and toxins that feed right back to water treatment facilities.  Those facilities treat the water with more chemicals then return them to consumers who drink at their own risk.

The Merrimac River, once a haven for sport fisherman, has experienced pollution problems because of heavy rains that cause sewage to be dumped into it.  According to a recent article in the Boston Globe:

Nearly 50 years after the Clean Water Act, the Merrimack has become one of the most polluted waterways in New England, one of dozens of rivers in the region that are repeatedly inundated with raw sewage from treatment plants overwhelmed by heavy rains … the Merrimack is expected to be deluged with an estimated 750 million gallons of sewage from the six treatment plants that feed into it — more than it has received in a decade…”

Our water systems are under extreme pressure and they are not going to get better anytime soon.  Get your drinking water from a known, reliable source where you can taste, see and feel the difference it can make in your life.  We’ll keep you informed here.

The Dwindling Supply Of Good Water On Our Planet

Let us start off by saying that our water is flowing pure and clear from the center of the earth here to our Boston Clear customers.  But we are fortunate.

As we in Massachusetts vote on Tuesday, consider your public officials’s stance on issues related to water.  While water is a national issue, its safety is best addressed at the local level where citizens can demand that their leaders do something beside issue statements that say our ‘water is safe to drink.’  If the water around the country is so clean, then why are so many people sick?!!!!

Each week we want to bring you information on water, not to scare you (though there is plenty to be scared about) but to inform you.   Through sharing stories of the struggles and the solutions surrounding the world’s clean water supply, we will solve this problem.

Water sources across the world, are under pressure from contaminates like lead, polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), manganese … that are all making people sick.  In many cases, people drink the water from the tap because that is all that they can afford, so the poorest among us are the ones getting the most contamination.  In the past, those testing water were looking for obvious contaminates, like lead, but now there are so many complex chemicals that have leeched into water supplies that are believed to cause high blood pressure, cancer and autism.

The contamination crisis of PFASs in the water is something that should concern a number of communities across the country.  According to Vice, PFAS are used in products to create items that are durable, heat resistance, and provide water- and oil-repellency. They can be found in carpet, apparel, fast food wrapping, non-stick substances, firefighting foam, and more. They are throughout the United States and, after decades of production, they have found their way into our bodies.

For many Americans, the phrase “water crisis” conjures thoughts of lead contamination in Flint, just a few hours’ drive northeast of Parchment. But increasingly, it’s also making them think of the chemicals countless drank—or may still be drinking—every day. From military bases to corporate waste sites, and in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado and beyond, new awareness of PFAS pollution and its long-term effects has left Americans horrified at the unusually durable “forever chemicals” they’ve been ingesting for years.

Lead paint was believed to be the cause of poisoning people in generations past, but could it have been in our drinking water?   However, conditions like high blood pressure are up and a new study suggests that it could be linked to lead;

It’s possible that lead exposure from decades past is helping feed the growing epidemic of high blood pressure, said Sung Kyun Park of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, who led the study team.

“Lead is a widespread environmental toxicant. As you have seen in Flint and many other cities, there may be continued exposure,” Park told NBC News.

Michigan’s drinking water is worse than what we read about in Flint, MI, which breaks our hearts.  While lead was the culprit in Flint, it is only one part of the problem;

Michigan’s experience with emerging contaminants is a clarion call to a nation that has forgotten some critical lessons from the past.  In all corners of the state, experts see a family of chemicals, once ubiquitous around the globe for decades, now linked to a series of deadly cancers, thyroid, autoimmune, metabolic and neurologic diseases, along with decreased fecundity and endocrine disruption. 

In places like El Salvador, water crisis is leading to outbreaks in violence.  According to one local, “The well doesn’t produce a lot of water and when it dries up, we have had problems with people fighting.”  Of course they do and it is going to get worse.

In Gaza, a war-torn area of the Middle East, water contamination is likely going to lead to an epidemic.  Children will be hit first, then, as it creeps into the lives of adults they will revolt.  Battles with neighboring Israel will likely occur if the water crisis is not addressed.  Water, a source that once drove people to come together, could lead to fighting that will certainly drive us apart.

Water is necessary for our existence, but before we run out of water, we are going to resort to fighting over it and about it.  The quality of our water and how we protect it, could be the single source of peace in the world … something to think about today as we head into Thanksgiving.  This year, give thanks to clean water.

Come to our Hate Free Zone and enjoy some of the finest water in the universe.

America’s Battle For Clean Water Has No Easy Answer

We expect honesty from those in our government (we won’t get any more political  than that here).  However, when it comes to our safety, we expect both honesty and transparency.  Never has there been a time when we need both of these when we look at our water supply.

As Pocahontas Spring’s natural flow slows at this time of year before returning to its more robust self in a few weeks , we reflect on how special this amazing resource is to us.  When you taste the purity of our water, you will never want tap water … you will never want bottled water again!  However, when it comes to tap water, it is more than just taste, it is about safety.

Maxx loves the spring and those New England Patriots

In Newark, NJ, the city conducted an engineering study and found that measures to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water were failing at a treatment plant.  The New York Times described the problem as one approaching the level of Flint, MI.  However, officials stated on the city’s website, in all caps, that “NEWARK’S WATER IS ABSOLUTELY SAFE TO DRINK.”  Then mayor Ras Baraka clarified the statement saying “In fact, Newark has some of the best drinking water. The problem is that our infrastructure is not safe.”  WHAT?

Problems with water stretch to rural areas as well.  NPR reported in small Martin county Kentucky town on the West Virginia border, a place where you might think the water is so pure, but found contamination so bad that some teenagers have no memory of ever drinking water from the tap.  Just like in Newark, the problem is not that treatment plants are putting out contaminated water (though some add chemicals to make sure the water is “clean”), the problem is the delivery system of pipes.  According to a Gail Brion, a University of Kentucky professor who specializes in water infrastructure:

“The treatment plant operators can’t control the quality of the water in the pipes if they cannot keep the pipes intact.  This is really not on the water quality coming out of the plant. It is on what happens to the water as it goes through this leaky straw.” 

In Miami, the rising water associated with global warming (whether or not you think humans are to blame is not the point) is leading to a crisis in that major city.  According to Bloomberg, Miami-Dade is built on the Biscayne Aquifer, 4,000 square miles of unusually shallow and porous limestone whose tiny air pockets are filled with rainwater and rivers running from the swamp to the ocean. The aquifer and the infrastructure that draws from it, cleans its water, and keeps it from overrunning the city combine to form a giant but fragile machine. Without this abundant source of fresh water, made cheap by its proximity to the surface, this hot, remote city could become uninhabitable.

So what is the fix?  First, come to our spring and fill your glass containers.  But we realize that not everyone can do that.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates it will cost the nearly $400 billion to repair the millions of miles of eroding pipe that is the main culprit of dirty tap water.  The money for that will mostly come from those who are on the main water supply that is run by a municipality or private companies with oversight from government regulators.  For places like Martin county, one of the poorest counties in the country, its residence may never be able to afford repairs and will be forced to purchase bottled water (also a big expense).

Locally, we have seen towns across New England that have encountered problems with tap water, including our own Lynnfield, MA.  These crises are often viewed as temporary after some action taken … then assurances that the water is safe.  This trend, sadly, is most likely going to continue because there are no easy answers.