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.

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