| May 9, 2001 -- Volume 2, No.
This week's NEWS
Cryptosporidium rears its ugly head in Canada with another Watergate-style controversy on who knew what and when did they know it. Arsenic is covered on every waterfront: Political, regulatory, science, college commentary and..........medicine? What is blue or green and....unwanted? New Federal MCL for uranium impacts Nebraska and the USEPA gets a new assistant administrator for water.
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- An outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada (pop. 14,000) results in a
precautionary boil water advisory
because there are reasons to suspect the drinking water.
A local doctor sounded alarm two weeks before alert was issued
(Ottawa Citizen, May 5)
The likely source of contamination is identified, but more questions are raised on delays in action.
(Ottawa Citizen, May 6)
The public demands answers regarding the delay in alert being issued
(Canadian Broadcasting Corp., May 7)
and the outbreak has severely
shaken the public's confidence in the city's drinking water.
(Canadian Broadcasting Corp., May 8)
And finally, after the number of confirmed cases increases, a formal inquiry is called.
(Ottawa Citizen, May 8)
Based on available media reports, it
APPEARS that the outbreak was caused by an unholy alliance of untreated
sewage discharged upstream of a drinking water
treatment plant intake, a "malfunction" of
a critical treatment component, and a seemingly slow
response to strong warning signals. The
CDC has identified "a run on anti-diarrheal
medicines" as a key indicator of a
widespread, potentially waterborne,
outbreak in other cases. Such a situation was apparently
identified by a local doctor in conjunction with a
confirmed case of cryptosporidiosis and was reported
to health officials.
observations include an unfounded media comment that the
DBPs resulting from chlorinating the drinking water
are "even more serious" than the
crypto-caused outbreak; a suggestion that the
filter problems experienced were "common
occurrences;" the official recommendation to
boil water for a full three minutes when
cryptosporidium are inactivated in less than one
minute at a full boil; and the public's clear
choice of bottled water over using boiled tap water.
Finally, what is the circumstance that puts a
city's sewage effluent back UPSTREAM of its own
drinking water intake?
- USEPA and National Drinking Water Advisory Council request nominations for arsenic cost workgroup by May 14
USEPA will not meet June 22 congressional deadline for arsenic rule, and NRDC will likely sue
(Salt Lake Tribune, May 5)
- National Academy of Science convenes new workgroup to evaluate new arsenic health info: First meeting on May 21
- Pontius gives excellent perspective to arsenic debate
(Water Online, April 23)
- 15% of Michigan water systems could be impacted by lower arsenic standard
(Detroit News, May 3)
- University students enter arsenic debate with one
finding media coverage an outrage
(The Technician at North Carolina State University, May 1)
comparing Clinton with Bart Simpson
(Excite News, Indiana University, May 7)
Even while arguing the same side of the issue,
North Carolina wins the debate with good
internet research and several excellent points.
Indiana U. lost serious ground with the following observations:
"80% of the drinking water is not
consumed," the Clinton EPA "suddenly at
last minute decided," and "Arsenic is
good for you."
of arsenic by ferns may provide solution
(Water World, May 4)
- Arsenic: An Ancient Chinese cure for leukemia?
(New York Times, May 6 - requires registration)
Correction: In last week's NEWS, we linked a story from the
L.A. Daily News that incorrectly indicated
a chromium treatment project had been approved by
AWWA. First, the project is still a proposal and
second, it is AWWARF that is involved with the San
Fernando area cities. While we can't catch
all of the errors in news stories that we link, we
will try to correct any that we find or that you
call to our attention.
- National Toxicology Program's Scientific Board of Counselors will meet on May 25.
Hexavalent chromium is on the agenda.
- Green-dyed Northern California creek thought to be a prank
(Redding Record Searchlight, May 3)
- North Carolina community's blue water is not a health concern
(Greenville News, May 2)
The source of color in drinking water is potentially of serious concern for two reasons. In the first instance, the time, effort, cost and consumer alarm associated with an unknown water quality impact can be very significant. In the second, it is always a great frustration for water quality professionals not to be able to pinpoint the reason for unusual changes in physical properties of drinking water.
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