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Drinking Water Problems in the Tampa Bay Region of Florida

Analies Dyjak @ Friday, May 14, 2021 at 12:34 am -0400

Christina Liu, B.S. | Hydroviv Science Team

Tampa Bay Water is an alliance between the six governments in west-central Florida: Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa. These municipalities, in turn, provide drinking water to more than 2.5 million people in the Tampa Bay region. For Hydroviv’s assessment of Tampa Bay Region’s drinking water, we aggregated water quality test data from Tampa Bay Water, the 6 municipal suppliers listed above, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Working Group, and the US Geological Survey. Our Water Nerds then cross referenced these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, as well as upcoming regulatory changes. The custom water filters that we build for our customers in the Tampa Bay Region are optimized with this research in mind.

Source of the Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Tampa Bay Water’s supply is a blend of treated groundwater, river water and desalinated seawater. Groundwater comes from 12 wellfields pumping water from the Floridan Aquifer. River water is withdrawn from the Alafia River, Hillsborough River and the Tampa Bypass Canal. Surplus river and canal water is stored in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, which supplies the surface water treatment plant during dry times. Hillsborough Bay is the source of seawater for the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant.

What Are The Major Concerns in Tampa Bay Drinking Water?

Contaminants of concern in the Tampa Bay Region’s drinking water include Lead, PFAS, Disinfection Byproducts, Radium, and Uranium. Low amounts of Arsenic and Chromium 6 were also detected in the water. Chloramine is used to disinfect the water.

Lead In Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Lead enters into the consumer's tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail (as witnessed in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water, reaching toxic levels. 2020 lead sampling by Tampa Bay Water detected levels as high as 4 parts per billion. EPA, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. In addition, Federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap.

PFAS or 'Forever Chemicals' in Tampa Bay Water

Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a category of emerging contaminants commonly used in firefighting foam, Teflon, non-stick surfaces, stain-resistant surfaces, and food packaging. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has determined that PFAS exposure is associated with various adverse health effects, including an increased risk of cancer, lowered fertility rates, and developmental issues in infants and young children. A new study out of The Yale School of Public Health recently found that exposure to PFAS increases the risk of miscarriage by 80-120% in pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control also issued a disclosure regarding a potential intersection between PFAS and COVID-19.

Even small amounts of PFAS are extremely toxic. PFAS are measured in parts per trillion, and one part per trillion is equivalent to one drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

PFAS have been detected in a growing number of municipalities across the United States. Most municipalities are not required to test for or remove PFAS from drinking water, including the Tampa Bay Region. Not all water filters are designed to remove PFAS from tap water. If you'd like to find water filters that remove PFAS from tap water, check out this Duke/NC State PFAS study.  Hydroviv filters are NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified for PFOA/PFOS removal.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Tampa Bay Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants (added to the water supply to protect consumers) react with naturally-occurring organic matter. EPA regulates two categories of DBPs: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA5). The EPA has stated that DBPs have been associated with increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Haloacetic Acid levels in Hillsborough and Pinellas County ranged as high as 47.2 parts per billion, nearing the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 60 parts per billion.  Total Trihalomethane levels ranged as high as 107 parts per billion, exceeding the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 80 parts per billion.

Radium and Uranium in Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Radium is formed when uranium and thorium undergo radioactive decay in the environment. Two of the main radium isotopes found in the environment are radium-226 and radium-228. Radium in drinking water is of primary concern because this radiation may cause cancer, kidney damage and birth defects.  Radium levels in Hillsborough County were as high as 2.04 ppb with the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level Goal 5 ppb. Uranium levels in Pasco County water measured at 0.54 ppb in 2019, with the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level Goal set at 30 ppb.

Use Of Chloramine In Tampa Bay Region’s Tap Water

While most cities use chlorine as the primary disinfectant, all of the municipalities within Tampa Bay Water use chloramine, which is made by combining chlorine and ammonia. Chloramine is frequently the issue when customers report a “bad taste” in their tap water, and unlike chlorine will not fade away if left in the fridge overnight. The 2020 chloramine running annual average for the City of Tampa Bay was 3.5 parts per million, with samples ranging as high as 5.3 ppm; the maximum residual disinfectant level, in comparison, is only 4.0 ppm. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that don’t adequately remove chloramine, but the filters that Hydroviv builds for Tampa Bay Area water use special filtration media that are purpose-built to remove chloramine as well.

Arsenic in Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Arsenic is a hazardous heavy metal that can cause cancer and other health problems. Arsenic originates in source water naturally. In the Tampa Bay Water region, low amounts of arsenic were detected in the different areas, ranging from 0.11 ppb to 0.43 ppb. While Tampa Bay Region’s Arsenic levels were comparatively low when measured to EPA water quality standards, consumers should know that the U.S. EPA's standard balances toxicity against the costs of removing arsenic from drinking water. 

Chromium 6 Levels In Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. Tampa Bay Water was measured to have Chromium 6 levels ranging from 47 parts per trillion to 140 parts per trillion. California has determined that 20 parts per trillion is the contaminant level below which there is minimal health risk. The Chromium 6 levels in the Tampa Bay water system range from about 2 to 7 times the level generally accepted as safe.

How Can Hydroviv Help Me?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each customer's water. The contaminants that we list above are what we consider to be major “points of emphasis” that we use to build water filters that are built specifically for Tampa Bay Area water, but all of our filters also include broad protection against a wide range of contaminants.

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Tampa Bay tap water, or just have questions about water quality in general, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat. We post water-related news on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Hydroviv's drinking water filters carry NSF certifications to Standard 42 (aesthetic effects--Chlorine Removal) and Standard 53 (health effects--Lead, VOCs, and PFOA/PFOS removal), and are independently tested to remove hundreds of contaminants.

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Everything You Need To Know About PFAS Contamination in Tap Water
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Why Does Washington, DC Water Taste Bad Right Now?

Analies Dyjak @ Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 2:39 pm -0400

Analies Ross-Dyjak  |  Water Nerd
**
Updated March 24, 2020 to include new chlorine switch dates

Our Water Nerds have received a ton of questions about a noticeable change in the taste and smell of Washington DC's tap water. While we've heard lots of interesting hypotheses, what's really happening is that the Washington Aqueduct (where DC Water purchases water from) has recently switched over its disinfectants from chloramine to chlorine, for an annual "spring cleaning" of the distribution lines. DC residents can expect funky-tasting water from March 23-May 4, 2020.

How Are Chloramine and Chlorine Different?

We answer this question in much more detail in a different post, but here's the skinny on chlorine in drinking water: Like a growing number of US cities, Washington, DC uses chloramine as the primary disinfectant for a couple of reasons:
  1. Chloramine persists longer in the distribution system, so it does a better job killing bacteria in areas of the water distribution system that are near the end of the pipes, or don't have as high of flow as other areas.

  2. It forms fewer disinfection byproducts in the presence of organic matter.

  3. Chloramine-treated water doesn't have as strong of a taste as chlorine-treated water.

While these are all great reasons to use chloramine, most cities that use chloramine undergo a more aggressive disinfection cycle for a few weeks each year (aka "Spring Cleaning"). 

What Are The Impacts of Switching to Chlorine?

People often find that the water tastes and smells like pool water during the disinfectant switch, in addition to your bathroom smelling like swimming pool's locker room after showering. If you want to fix this problem... you have a couple of options that don't involve bottled water (horrible for the environment and less regulated than tap water!).
  1. Get a water filter that's designed to handle it (and lead, chromium 6, VOCs...)!

  2.  If you let chlorinated tap water sit in a pitcher overnight, a good amount of the chlorine taste and smell will go away. However, many people find that the water tastes "stale" when this happens (from the less volatile disinfection byproducts).

When Will Washington, DC's Water Switch Back Over to Chloramine?

The "Spring Cleaning" period is scheduled to take place from March 23 until May 4, 2020. After May 4, the water utility provider will switch the disinfectant back over to chloramine. Until then... non-Hydroviv users will just have to hold their noses!

Other Great Articles We Think You'll Love:
Tap Water Chlorination: The Good, The Bad, The Unknown
What Are Disinfection Byproducts and Why Should I Care?
Fluoride in Municipal Tap Water: What You Need To Know

Problems We Found In Milwaukee's Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak @ Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm -0400

Analies Dyjak  |  Policy Nerd

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s drinking water, we collected water quality test data from the city and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced their water quality data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in Milwaukee’s drinking water.

Where Does Milwaukee Source Its Drinking Water?

Milwaukee sources its drinking water from Lake Michigan. This surface water source has had a long history of pollution, including recent lawsuits involving Chromium 6 releases from an abutting steel facility.

Chromium 6 In Milwaukee’s Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is currently unregulated by the EPA. In recent years, Milwaukee has had a major problem with this dangerous contaminant. Chromium 6 pollution is associated with metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and pigment production. This years water quality report for Milwaukee detected levels of Chromium 6 as high as 0.2 parts per billion. This concentration is 10 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk. EPA has acknowledged that Chromium 6 is a known human carcinogen through inhalation, but is still determining its cancer potential through ingestion of drinking water. Lung, nasal and sinus cancers are associated with Chromium 6 exposure. Ingestion of extremely high doses of chromium 6 compounds can cause acute respiratory disease, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, and neurological distress which may result in death.

Lead In Milwaukee's Drinking Water 

In recent years, Milwaukee has had a problem with lead in drinking water. Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 10% of sites that were tested for lead had concentrations over 7.2 parts per billion. The highest concentration detected in 2017 was 130 parts per billion, which is a whopping 8.6 times higher that the Federal Action Level of 15 parts per billion. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. These health and regulatory organizations are trying to reduce the allowable limit to 1 part per billion, so a concentration of 130 parts per billion is of serious concern. Additionally, these measurements may not be a true indication of your tap water if your home has lead plumbing or lead fixtures. Treated water leaving the plant may be in compliance with loose EPA standards, but could become contaminated once it enters older infrastructure. Houses built before 1986 were most likely built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures. Lead exposure can cause developmental issues, lowered IQ, and damages to the kidneys and brain.

Perfluorinated Compounds In Milwaukee's Drinking Water 

This years water quality report for Milwaukee included test data from six Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs). Perfluorinated Compounds are associated with firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, Scotchguard and other solvents from manufacturing. The two PFCs that are the most well known and the most researched are Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which was detected at 2.1 parts per trillion and Perfluorooctane-sulfonic acid (PFOS) which was detected at 2 parts per trillion. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recently recommended setting a Minimum Risk Level of 20 parts per trillion for both of these chemicals. These data are preliminary and the effects to human health are still unknown. This category of chemicals are “emerging contaminants” which means they are thought to pose a potential threat to human health and the environment, but haven't yet been regulated. Perfluorinated Compounds contribute to environmental contamination largely due to the fact that they are highly resistant to degradation processes, and thus persist for many years in water, air and can enter the food chain via bioaccumulation in certain animal species.

Chloramine In Norman’s Drinking Water

While most municipalities use chlorine as the primary drinking water disinfectant, Milwaukee’s drinking water is disinfected with chloramine. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” or “pool smell” of tap water. Unlike chlorine, chloramine does not dissipate if a container of water is left in the refrigerator overnight. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for Milwaukee use a special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine.

It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Milwaukee’s tap water quality, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Lead Contamination In Drinking Water
5 Things To Know About Chromium 6 In Drinking Water
Perfluorinated Compounds In Drinking Water

Problems We Found With Milwaukee's Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak @ Friday, July 27, 2018 at 4:02 pm -0400



Analies Dyjak  |  Policy Nerd

For Hydroviv’s assessment of the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s drinking water, we collected water quality test data from the city and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced their water quality data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in Milwaukee’s drinking water.

Where Does Milwaukee Source Its Drinking Water?

Milwaukee sources its drinking water from Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan has had a long history of pollution, including a recent lawsuit involving Chromium 6 releases from an abutting steel facility.

Chromium 6 In Milwaukee’s Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is currently unregulated by the EPA. In recent years, the city of Milwaukee's water has had a major problem with this dangerous contaminant. Chromium 6 pollution is associated with metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and pigment production. This years water quality report for Milwaukee found levels of Chromium 6 as high as 0.25 parts per billion. These levels are 12.5 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk. EPA has acknowledged that Chromium 6 is a known human carcinogen through inhalation, but is still determining its cancer potential through ingestion of drinking water. Lung, nasal and sinus cancers are associated with Chromium 6 exposure. Ingestion of extremely high doses of chromium 6 compounds can cause acute respiratory disease, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, and neurological distress which may result in death.

Lead In Milwaukee's Drinking Water 

In recent years, the city of Milwaukee has also had a problem with lead in drinking water. Lead enters Milwaukee's tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 10% of sites that were tested for lead had concentrations over 7.2 parts per billion. The highest concentration detected in 2017 was 130 parts per billion, which is a whopping 8.6 times higher that the Federal Action Level of 15 parts per billion. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. These health and regulatory organizations are trying to reduce the allowable limit, so a concentration of 130 parts per billion is of serious concern. Treated water leaving the plant may be in compliance with loose EPA standards, but could become contaminated once it enters older infrastructure. Houses built before 1986 were most likely built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures. Lead exposure can cause developmental issues, lowered IQ, and damages to the kidneys and brain.

Perfluorinated Compounds In Milwaukee's Drinking Water

This years water quality report for Milwaukee included test data from six Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs). Perfluorinated Compounds are associated with firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, Scotchguard and other solvents from manufacturing. The two PFCs that are the most well known and the most researched are Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which was detected at 2.1 parts per trillion and Perfluorooctane-sulfonic acid (PFOS) which was detected at 2 parts per trillion. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recently recommended setting a Minimum Risk Level of 20 parts per trillion for both of these substances. These data are preliminary and the effects to human health are still unknown. This category of chemicals are “emerging contaminants” which means they are thought to pose a potential threat to human health and the environment, but haven't yet been regulated. Perfluorinated Compounds contribute to environmental contamination largely due to the fact that they are highly resistant to degradation processes, and thus persist for many years in water, air and can enter the food chain via bioaccumulation in certain animal species.

Chloramine In Milwaukee’s Drinking Water

While most municipalities use chlorine as the primary drinking water disinfectant, Milwaukee’s drinking and tap water is disinfected with chloramine. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” or “pool smell” of tap water. Unlike chlorine, chloramine does not dissipate if a container of water is left in the refrigerator overnight. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for Milwaukee use a special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine.

It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for the city of Milwaukee’s tap water quality, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Lead Contamination In Drinking Water
5 Things To Know About Chromium 6 In Drinking Water
PFOA and PFOS: What You Need To Know

Problems We Found In Louisville, Kentucky Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak @ Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 3:26 pm -0400

Ernesto Esquivel  |  Water Nerd
**Updated August 2, 2019 to include current data

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Louisville, Kentucky’s tap and drinking water problems, we collected water quality test data from Louisville and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced Louisville water quality data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in Louisville’s drinking water.


Where Does Louisville Source Its Drinking Water?

Louisville sources its drinking water from the Ohio River. The utility provider, Louisville Water, treats and distributes drinking water to the metropolitan area as well as surrounding counties, including; Bullitt, Hardin, Nelson, Oldham, Shelby, and Spencer.

Lead In Louisville’s Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 10% of sites that were tested for lead had concentrations over 4.7 parts per billion, and the highest level collected was 10.2 parts per billion. The City of Louisville only received data from 50 residential taps, so the small data set may not be representative of the actual scope of the lead problem. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. Additionally, once water hits lead plumbing and lead fixtures, these measurements will increase significantly. Houses built before 1986 were most likely built with these types of fixtures. Lead exposure can cause developmental issues, lowered IQ, and damages to the kidneys and brain.

Disinfection Byproducts In Louisville’s Drinking Water

DBPs are formed when chlorine or chloramine-based disinfectants are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria. EPA regulates two categories or DBPs: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Concentrations of HAA5 averaged 27.3 parts per billion and reached levels as high as 46.1 parts per billion. The EPA Maximum Contaminant Level for this compound is 60 parts per billion. Concentrations of TTHMs averaged 27.8 parts per billion, but reached levels as high as 39.8 parts per billion. EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level is 80 parts per billion for TTHMs. Disinfection Byproducts are a category of emerging contaminants which means they have been detected in drinking water but the risk to human health is unknown. Health and regulatory agencies have very little knowledge about the adverse health effects of DBPs, and their toxicity potential. EPA has stated that they have been linked to an increased risk of various types of cancers and problems with the central nervous system.

Chloramine In Louisville’s Drinking Water

Louisville disinfects its drinking water with chloramine, which is a disinfectant similar to chlorine. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many Louisville customers report as the “bad taste” or “pool smell” of tap water. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for Louisville use a special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine.

It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Louisville’s tap water quality, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Lead Contamination In Drinking Water
What Is The Difference Between Chlorine and Chloramine In Drinking Water?
Disinfection Byproducts In Drinking Water: What You Need To Know