24 September 2015

WaterSmarts: What's your water quality?

For May's calendar activity (linked to Chapter 4 in Living with Water Scarcity), I asked people to look up their local water quality reports and answer a few questions...*

Q: What did you read that impresses you?
  1. Nothing. I get water quality information from the media (Colombia)
  2. It's a comprehensive report. I liked the stuff they are doing with "stakeholders" on pesticide runoff (N Ireland)
  3. It was nice to see monitoring of trihalomethanes (Canada)
  4. The voluntary testing for emerging contaminants (USA)
Q: What did you read that frightens you?
  1. [blank]
  2. The degree of chemical treatment of our water to "sanitise" it e.g. Aluminium salts to flocculate [clump up contamination in] it
  3. Tests for some chemical constituents are done very infrequently which wouldn't allow detection of temporary contamination.
  4. The latest Water Quality Report is from spring 2014, and the website hasn't been updated since 2013. What's more frightening is not in the WQ report, but in the separate Emerging Contaminants study indicating high frequency of detection of pesticides, herbicides and surfactants in raw and finished water.
Bottom Line: I'm not sure water utilities are providing timely, complete and understandable information to their customers on water quality. Do you have examples of any that do (best practices)? Other responses?

* There's still time to complete activities for:


  1. In the USA, the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires periodic reporting of chemical constituents in our drinking water (from our water purveyors). We accept these reports with little question. I am concerned about the possible "Volkswagenization" of drinking water quality, wherein the veracity of each water quality test is not reviewed or questioned by credible sources. Do water purveyors really protect the interests of their ratepayers?

  2. I am sending a link [pdf] to Louisville Water Company's water quality report. I thought it was pretty decent, especially the table. I don't know if the table is standard boiler plate or if other companies do it differently. Hope you find it interesting.

  3. What value do you place on your drinking water quality? If it's low then it's time to transition to recycled water for lots of people and uses.


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