As reported by Kenneth Lovett of the New York Daily News on February 13, 2017, “New York is looking at a potential $40 billion clean water crisis, state Controller Thomas DiNapoli warned on Monday.
Citing an aging water infrastructure across the state, DiNapoli in a new report said the system could require nearly $40 billion in repairs and upgrades over the next two decades.
He cited the recent contamination of water in upstate Hoosick Falls and other issues in Syracuse and Newburgh as examples of the need for action.
Water contamination from industrial sites and inadequate treatment facilities, agricultural and storm water runoff, aging pipes and other structural problems are among the problems that must be addressed to ensure New York has clean and lead-free drinking water, DiNapoli said.”
More and More Contaminants and Spills Likely
Only into the first week of the new administration, it appeared that rules and regulations were already being relaxed for water quality standards. Reported by Time.com on February 1, 2017 it was stated, “Moving to dismantle former President Barack Obama's legacy on the environment and other issues, House Republicans approved a measure Wednesday that scuttles a regulation aimed at preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams. “
According to an extensive report by The Physicians for Social Responsibility and Earthjustice titled Coal Ash, The toxic threat to our health and environment, “Coal ash, one of the dirtiest secrets in American energy production, burst into the U.S. consciousness three days before Christmas, 2008 when an earthen wall holding back a huge coal ash disposal pond failed at the coal-fired power plant in Kingston, Tennessee. The 40-acre pond spilled more than 1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry into the adjacent river valley, covering some 300 acres with thick, toxic sludge, destroying three homes, damaging many others and contaminating the Emory and Clinch Rivers.1 When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tested water samples after the spill, they found toxic heavy metals including arsenic, which they measured at 149 times the allowable standard for drinking water. Water samples also contained elevated levels of other toxic metals: lead, thallium, barium, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and nickel. Even after this largest coal ash spill in the United States, little has changed for protection to consumers in and around these mining areas.
According to a study done by Duke University’s Nicholas School of Environment and published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters in October 2016, “Vengosh said this latest finding raises the specter of a larger public health issue in addition to any threats posed by coal ash contamination. He pointed to his prior work and other research indicating that coal ash was leaching from its storage sites into water supplies, spreading selenium and arsenic.
"The bottom line is that we need to protect the health of North Carolinians from the naturally occurring threat of hexavalent chromium while also protecting them from harmful contaminants, such as arsenic and selenium, which our previous research has shown do derive from leaking coal ash ponds," Vengosh said. "The impact of leaking coal ash ponds on water resources is still a major environmental issue."
And It isn’t Just Coal, but Oil, TOO
The new administration immediately proceeded in reversing most rollbacks in oil pipeline production, despite repeated spills and compromises in other oil pipelines this last year. Even as the Dakota Pipeline was in the process of being put forward, a Texas pipline spill caused 600,000 gallons of oil to spew out of Enbridge’s Seaway Pipeline in Blue Ridge, the second spill since the pipeline opened for business in mid 2016.
“According to KDFW, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA (http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/epa)) intend to do water and environmental testing in the coming days. TxDOT also told the local National Public Radio affiliate, KETR-FM, that it would take "several weeks (http://ketr.org/post/updated-cleanup-continues-questions-remain-collin-county-oilspill-site)" to complete a full cleanup.”
The Huffington Post reported on December 12, 2016 “About 150 miles from where thousands have protested for months that the Dakota Access pipeline could threaten a Sioux tribe’s water supply, a pipeline in the western part of North Dakota has spilled more than 130,000 gallons of oil into a creek, state officials said.
The Associated Press reported the company has declared 36 other spills since 2006, totaling more than 320,000 gallons of petroleum products.”
On January 26, 2017 NPR reported the huge diesel oil leak. “An underground pipeline that runs through multiple Midwestern states has leaked an estimated 138,000 gallons of diesel fuel, according to the company that owns it, Magellan Midstream Partners.
Clay Masters of Iowa Public Radio reported diesel leaking from a 12-inch underground pipe was initially spotted in a farm field in north-central Worth County, Iowa, on Wednesday morning. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Iowa Department of Natural Resources joined representatives of Magellan and other local officials at the site, Masters reported.
‘It's a big one — it's significant,’ Jeff Vansteenburg of the Iowa Department of Natural
Resources told the Des Moines Register.”
A new study on fracking-related spills published by Environmental Science & Technology of Duke University on February 21, 2017 revealed 6,648 spills in four states alone – Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania – in 10 years.
The researchers determined that up to 16 percent of fracked oil and gas wells spill hydrocarbons, chemically laden water, fracking fluids and other substances. As reported by EcoWatch on January 31, 2017, 9,442 citizen-reported fracking complaints reveal 12 years of suppressed data.
Further Contamination has Caused More Super Fund Sites on the Horizon
It appears every day there is yet another report of contaminated groundwater by some industrial runoff, seepage or spill.
On February 28, 2017, Dan Ross of the Fair Warning Organization wrote: “At toxic cleanup sites across the country, environmental agencies have allowed groundwater contamination to go untreated and slowly diminish over time—a strategy that saves money for polluters but could cost taxpayers dearly and jeopardize drinking water supplies.
The strategy is called monitored natural attenuation, or MNA. With little public awareness or debate, it has come into increasing use nationally since the 1990s as a way to cope with the enormous cost of some groundwater cleanups.
Despite the imposing bureaucratic name, it basically means keeping a watchful eye while natural processes purge groundwater of chemical pollution. According to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, it’s an acceptable approach under some circumstances. That includes when contaminants are expected to degrade in years rather than centuries, and where there is no risk of polluted water seeping into, and spoiling, fresh water supplies. MNA can be effective with contaminants such as petroleum hydrocarbons that are eaten by microbes in the soil and groundwater.”
Reported by Eyewitness News in New York on February 17, 2017, “The fear is the Bethpage plume, full of toxins in their water supply on Long Island. It's on the move, and could impact more and more people.
‘We need to stop the plume from reaching any other water districts that is our single goal’, said Commissioner Basil Seggos, State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The toxic plume was formed decades ago from disposal practices at the Grumman plant
where weapons and planes were produced for the Navy.
The state is paying for the study out of a state super fund.
But the state, along with the people impacted by the toxins, doesn't want just taxpayers
footing the bill.”
Groundwater and air contamination issues continue to prevail at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory Sites, and to this day the EPA has never declared it to be a superfund site. The Santa Susana Field Laboratory is a complex of industrial research and development facilities located on a 2,668-acre portion of the Southern California Simi Hills in Simi Valley, California. It was used mainly for the development and testing of liquid-propellant rocket engines for the United States space program from 1949 to 2006, nuclear reactors from 1953 to 1980 and the operation of a U.S. government-sponsored liquid metals research center from 1966 to 1998.
Today, more than 150,000 people live within 5 miles of the facility, and at least half a million people live within 10 miles. Several spills and releases occurred over the decades of use at these facilities, and many health issues have resulted from this contamination including ongoing rare childhood cancers. Some progress has been made, but the soil and water are still contaminated just as new housing developments go into surrounding areas. It was scheduled to be completed by 2017, but no cleanup has begun to-date.
Waterborne Diseases on the Rise
Old pipes, ventilation and air conditioning and heating systems along with the lack of maintenance have caused the potential for more and more outbreaks of deadly waterborne diseases such as Legionnaires. Biofilm buildups create a perfect environment for these bacteria to attach themselves to, making it almost impossible for a disinfectant to mitigate the contaminants.
According to a recent article written by Holly Neuhaus of Specialized Pipe Technologies for Industrial WaterWorld, “Many people think water-related diseases only happen in developing countries, not realizing the potential for catching a life-threatening water disease is knocking at their front door. There are several deadly waterborne diseases looming but the most infamous is Legionnaires’ disease bacteria (LDB). LDB is now the primary source for waterborne disease outbreaks and deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. LDB can be found in cooling systems, which are in nearly every industrial facility or large building facility. With the potential severity of water diseases looming, the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) passed a new standard, ANSI/ASHRAE 188, that holds building owners and facility managers accountable for their building’s water systems, including cooling systems.”
The Erin Brockovich Contaminant Continues to Rear Its Ugly Head
There’s no doubting that Chromium VI has not gone away, and recent reports show how its contamination continues to spread throughout the United States either naturally occurring or from industrial runoffs. According to a Health Reporter in Houston, Debbie Strauss, “In November, Channel 2 Investigates revealed the city of Houston's tap water had problems.
‘The city of Houston's water ranks third in the country in terms of high levels of chromium-6,’ said Bill Walker, managing editor of Environmental Working Group.
‘We know for a fact that there are levels above the threshold that's known to cause adverse human health effects,’ said Jackie Young, the executive director of TxHEA. ‘So we're educating and engaging residents to ask the city of Houston to go above and beyond their legal federal standards and test and isolate where this source is coming from.’”
EPA Takes First Step in Acknowledging Affects from PFOA and PFO Water Contamination
In an effort to better distinguish the health problems associated with the exposure to PFOAs and PFOs, the EPA took a baby step forward last November: To provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a life- time of exposure to PFOA and PFOS from drinking water, EPA established the health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion. When both PFOA and PFOS are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS should be compared with the 70 parts per trillion health advisory level. This health advisory level offers a margin of protection for all Americans throughout their life from adverse health effects resulting from exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.
How the Health Advisories were Developed
EPA’s health advisories are based on the best available peer-reviewed studies of the effects of PFOA and PFOS on laboratory animals (rats and mice) and were also informed by epidemiological studies of human populations that have been exposed to PFASs. These studies indicate that exposure to PFOA and PFOS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses during preg- nancy or to breastfed infants (e.g., low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations), cancer (e.g., testicular, kidney), liver effects (e.g., tissue damage), immune effects (e.g., antibody production and im- munity), thyroid effects and other effects (e.g., cholesterol changes).
Education in the Key
Enough cannot be said about how education says it all. When it comes to getting the word out, water treatment distributors and dealers alike can truly capitalize on all of these issues and help their constituency for the good of all mankind. It is not about selling a product…it is about helping the people of this country live a healthier lifestyle. It is apparent today, that help is not and will not come from government politicians or government money.
Research, research, research on the best systems for the best filtration efficacy is also the key. Partnering not only the best but it takes money and greed out of the equation and brings in the need. Too many areas in this country are poverty-stricken and cannot provide healthy safe drinking water for their residents.
How to Get Them Out – Partnering With the Best of the Best in Filtration
The leaders in water treatment today have the where-with-all to partner and clean up the evergrowing water quality problems facing the population. Unfortunately it is not a one-system fix, but brainstorming to provide the best treatment modalities, will in fact bring the best.
The filtration of choice is wide ranging from traditional reverse osmosis water purification and ultra filtration to lesser utilized technologies. Lead contamination, the number-one discovered in so many water systems today, can be reduced or removed with both point-of-entry and point-of-use water treatment systems. Using our versatile filtration technology, electroadsorption, the U.S.-manufactured ULTRA-D Submicron Series by United Filters International has been independently tested and certified for 95 percent reduction of lead; 99 percent virus, bacteria, and cysts; PFOAs and PFCs; reduction of chromium VI, arsenic, mercury, and other chemicals. This series recently received ANSI/NSF 61 and 42 certifications.
Some contaminants such as residual oil and chemicals from fracking are more difficult to remove and require multiple systems. On-site remediation now includes multi-stage truck systems that clean the water enough to be put into the wastewater treatment stream.
Radioactive contaminants such as uranium are also difficult but can be reduced by both cation and anion dependent upon its state. Reverse osmosis will reduce uranium by over 95. Ultrafiltration will also reduce the amount of uranium, and activated alumina can also be utilized.
Outside the U.S., new technologies based on nature are being developed and tested. As reported by Andrew Williams for Water & Wastewater International, “one novel nature inspired technology has been developed by Danish company Aquaporin, which is exploring the commercial potential of using aquaporin water channels to filtrate water. As Tine Jørgensen, business development officer at the company explains, aquaporin proteins, naturally found in human kidneys, plants and other living things, are highly selective channels that only allow water to pass.that incorporate a seaweed-based flocculent process technology by by Norway-based company Sorbwater Technology and aquaporin-based biomimetic membranes inspired by the natural water purification systems of the roots of the mangrove plant and the human kidney.
Could Forming a Team be the Answer?
United Filters International has amassed a coalition of business partners to further expand the global reach for clean water in the world. It is the responsibility of all water professionals to build on future generations to come.
Sources for blog: