Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How clean is our water?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Weeeellll ... It depends on where you're at and who you're asking.

This past summer, I took a tour of the Franklin Water Treatment Plant on Brookshire Boulevard and, frankly, felt a lot better about the quality of Charlotte's drinking water afterward. You can read about that tour here, in an article I wrote for The Mountain Island Weekly.

Since then, a couple of people have argued that our water isn't as clean as it could be. But, I'm telling you — compared to the rest of the country — Charlotte's tap water is good stuff.

Don't just take my word for it. Look for a water quality report from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities in your mailbox this spring. It's a report they're required to share with you, and it's information you need to know, so don't chuck it before you read it.

Meanwhile, here's a glimpse at what the rest of the country has to deal with:

More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.

That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards.

Studies indicate that drinking water contaminants are linked to millions of instances of illness within the United States each year.

In some instances, drinking water violations were one-time events, and probably posed little risk. But for hundreds of other systems, illegal contamination persisted for years, records show.

Read more from The New York Times here.

Bottled water v. Tap Water:

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