Water Quality Articles | Water Filter Information & Articles – Tagged "drinking water" – Hydroviv

Problems We Found In Providence, Rhode Island's Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Providence, Rhode Island’s drinking water problems, we collected water quality test data from Providence Water and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced the city’s 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 Providence drinking water.

Where Does Providence Source Its Drinking Water?

Providence sources its drinking water from the Scituate Reservoir, which is located 15 miles east of the city. The Scituate Reservoir has tributaries that flow in and out of several other reservoirs including the Regulating, Barden, Ponaganset, Westconnaug, and Moswansicut reservoirs. The Providence Water system has approximately 1,040 miles of transmission and distribution mains. 

Lead In Providence’s Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. We were disturbed to find that Providence, Rhode Island is in exceedance with the federal Action Level of 15 parts per billion. 10% of the samples analyzed had lead concentrations over 17 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 between the ages of 0-5. These health and regulatory agencies are trying to lower the current standard of 15 parts per billion to 1 part per billion, so a concentration of 17 parts per billion is very concerning. To make matters worse, in a city of almost 200,000 people, only 348 homes were tested for lead in drinking water. 38 of the 348 homes that were tested for lead exceeded the federal Action Level. Municipalities are not required to list the data set or disclose the locations from which the samples were obtained. This being considered, the provided data may not be representative of the actual scope of the lead problem in Providence. Hydroviv strongly encourages Providence residents to take advantage of the city’s free lead testing program. Under this program, residents can pick up a free kit to test for lead in their drinking water at the Providence Water customer service location. For more information call 401-521-6303.

Disinfection Byproducts In Providence's Water 

Providence Water detected significant levels of Disinfection Byproducts or DBPs in their drinking water. DBPs are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Concentrations were detected as high as 82 parts per billion for TTHMs, which exceeds the loose EPA standard of 80 parts per billion for drinking water. DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants which means they have been detected in drinking water but the risk to human health is unknown. DBPs are formed when when chlorine based disinfectants are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria. Regulatory agencies have very little knowledge about the adverse health effects of DBPs and their toxicity. EPA has stated that they have been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Some disinfection byproducts have almost no toxicity, but others have been associated with cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental issues in laboratory animals. 200 million people in the United States use chlorinated tap water as their primary drinking source, so we take understanding their full health effects very seriously, even if federal agencies fail to regulate all categories.

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 Providence’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.

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NPDES Permits: What You Need To Know

Analies Dyjak |  Hydroviv Policy Analyst

While there’s a lot of debate on what should and shouldn’t be regulated in terms of chemical discharge by companies, we thought that it would be interesting to show how regulations are used in the real-world.  In this article, we talk about the permits that allow entities to discharge chemicals into sewers and waterways.

What Is An NPDES Permit?

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
Permits disclose which chemicals companies are allowed to discharge into waterways, and at what concentrations. The overall goal of a NPDES permit is to provide transparency between the polluter, the federal government and the public.

Who Needs To Get An NPDES Permit?

Any company, organization of private entity that has plans to discharge pollution from a point source into a United States waterway.

How Are NPDES Permits Granted & Distributed?

Technology-based and water quality based limitations are two criteria that are considered when issuing a permit. Technology-based limitations take into consideration the technology and economic ability of the polluters to control the discharge of pollutants from their facilities. Water quality-based limitations are meant to protect the body of water that the effluent is being discharged into.
Once a permitting authority or company completes a Notice of Intent (NOI) for a NPDES permit, it becomes available to the public via the Federal Register. Often local newspapers will publish a notice of the application and provide information regarding public comments.

Where Can I Find an Existing NPDES Permit?

Existing NPDES permits can be found in the General Permit Web Inventory section of the EPA’s website. Required information to search for a NPDES permit includes either the name of a state, permit number, or permitting authority.

What Should A NPDES Permit Include?

  • Information on each known contaminant must be included in a NPDES permit, whether it is regulated by the EPA or not.

  • Clear, concise, and consistent units. When a regulatory agency signs off on a NPDES permit without units, they’re essentially allowing a company to discharge a contaminant at any concentration.

  • Pertinent information that might affect concentration levels.

    • For example seasonal variance or increased turbidity.

  • A NPDES permit should also have information on monitoring such as location and frequency of sampling.

Why You Should Care About NPDES Permitting

Public participation has the ability to prolong the issuing process and can cause a company to alter their plans for dealing with chemical discharge. If you have questions regarding a NPDES permit in your area, don’t hesitate to address your concerns during the required public comment period. Be vigilant in assessing every component of the water discharge permit!

Want To Learn More About NPDES Permits And Water Policy?

Feel free to reach out to our Water Nerds through live chat or email (hello@hydroviv.com).  We're happy to help you out!

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Superfund: Spring Park, Minnesota

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd

This week, Hydroviv is highlighting the six new National Priorities List (NPL) sites under the EPA Superfund program. Superfund sites are home to high levels of hazardous soil and groundwater contamination from years of improper disposal techniques. If you’d like to learn more about the ins and out of Superfund, check out our recap HERE. The next Superfund site that we’ll be discussing is located in Spring Park, Minnesota. 

Spring Park, Minnesota is home to one of the six newly designated Superfund sites. The town’s municipal well field is contaminated with several industrial solvents such as trichloroethylene (TCE), 1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE) and vinyl chloride. There are 1,673 residents in Spring Park, all of which are serviced by the same municipal well field. Two of the three municipal wells currently exceed Maximum Contaminant Levels for TCE. EPA has stated that the source of the contamination is unknown, but all contaminants are frequently used as industrial solvents.

If you live near a Superfund site and are concerned about your water, drop us an email at hello@hydroviv.com or visit hydroviv.com and use our live chat feature. Hydroviv is staffed with scientists and policy experts that can help you make sense of your water and find an effective filter, even if it isn’t one we sell.

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Radium In Drinking Water: What You Need To Know

Eric Roy, Ph.D.  |  Scientific Founder

Since The Environmental Working Group recently released a report about the prevalance of radium in US water supplies, our email and support line have been filled with questions about the toxic, radioactive heavy metal.  The purpose of this article is to address a lot of these FAQs, and to discuss how to remove radium from drinking water.  We'll be updating the article as more questions come into our Water Nerds!

What Is Radium & Where Does It Come From?

Radium is the product of the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium decay in rocks and soils.  It's naturally occurring, and Radium levels tend to be higher in groundwater (wells, aquifers) than surface water (rivers).

Are The Recent News Articles The Result Of A Recent Spike In Radium Concentrations?

No.  The reports examined radium concentrations that were logged in publicly-available databases the same databases that Hydroviv has been been using for years when we optimize water filters for our customers.  

Should I Be Treating My Drinking Water Like Radioactive Waste?

Absolutely not.  The concentrations of radium in drinking water are nowehere near the levels found in radioactive waste. There is absolutely no need to avoid being near your tap water. 

What Can I Do To Remove Radium From My Drinking Water?

Unlike lead, which leaches into water from pipes, radium comes from the source water itself, so flushing your pipes does not reduce radium concentrations in water.  Boiling water also does not reduce or removing radium from drinking water.  

There are two ways that people can remove radium from their drinking water:

1.  Ion exchange media.  Cationic ion exchange media do a nice job selectively removing radium and uranium from drinking water, without removing minerals like calcium or magnesium.  This is the approach we take in our water filters.

2.  Reverse osmosis.   Reverse osmosis is also a viable way to remove chromium 6 from water for people who are willing to accept the drawbacks, including low flow rate and complexity of installation.  

If you have any questions about filtering or removing radium from your drinking water, we encourage you to take advantage of Hydroviv’s “Help No Matter What” approach to technical support, where we will help you select an effective water filter system, even if it’s not one that we sell.  This free service can be reached by emailing support@hydroviv.com

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The Ins And Outs Of Drinking Water Regulation

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

As emerging contaminants like GenX, PFOA, and PFOS have been popping up in news headlines all over the country, there has been some confusion as to how these unregulated contaminants are addressed at the federal level. While it may seem like the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule is in place to protect people from any and all emerging contaminants, it is not a hard and fast rule designed to expedite regulation -- rather, it is a lengthy process that unfortunately has not resulted in many real-world changes. This article discusses aspects of the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule that may surprise you, and explains how drinking water contaminants become regulated in the United States.

What Is The Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule?

The Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) was created as a part of the 1996 Amendments of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). SDWA regulates all public drinking water systems throughout the United States. It establishes National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for 90 contaminants, which are known as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). UCMR is the process that EPA uses to regulate contaminants. However, it has ultimately failed to create meaningful changes in water quality regulation.

How Are Drinking Water Contaminants Regulated In The United States?

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA typically follows a specific process when determining whether to regulate certain contaminants. Every 5 years, EPA publishes a list of 30 contaminants under the UCMR called the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL). Contaminants on this list are not regulated by National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, but are most likely present in public drinking water systems. These contaminants are placed on the list because they pose the greatest public health risk through ingestion of drinking water. EPA’s job is to whittle down the list of 30 to a handful of priority contaminants. Of that group of priority contaminants, EPA must make a regulatory determination for at least 5. EPA can choose to regulate all, some, or none of these contaminants.

What Is The Criteria For UCMR Regulatory Determination?

  1. EPA must determine that the contaminant does/does not cause adverse health effects in humans.

  2. EPA must determine if the contaminant will be present in public drinking water systems at an unsafe concentration.

  3. EPA Administrator must determine if regulating the contaminant will reduce adverse health effects in humans.

Does A Contaminant Have To Be On The CCL To Become Regulated?

No. EPA is not limited to regulating contaminants that are on the current CCL. EPA can consider other contaminants if they present a serious public health concern in drinking water.

Does the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule Set Drinking Water Standards?

No. UCMR/CCL contaminants are not subject to regulation. As a part of the UCMR program, EPA establishes Minimum Reporting Levels (MRLs) for each contaminant. National Water Quality Laboratory defines MRLs as ”the smallest measured concentration of a substance that can be reliably measured by using a given analytical method.” MRLs are not to be confused with Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), which are enforceable regulatory thresholds for drinking water contamination.

How Are Contaminants Added To The Contaminant Candidate List?

In order for a contaminant to be considered for the EPA UCMR, it must be registered in the United States and have an analytical reference standard. The National Drinking Water Advisory Council and National Academy of Sciences are instrumental in determining which contaminants should be added to the list. After UCMR 2, EPA allowed for public participation in the CCL decision making process. Additionally, a contaminant can be added to multiple CCLs. For example, Perchlorate was on CCL 1, CCL 2, and CCL 3 before it was regulated.

Common Contaminants Considered Under The Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule

The Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3) was published in May of 2012, and it included two chemicals that you might be familiar with. Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were both on Contaminant Candidate List 3. Both of these contaminants fall under a broad category of contaminants called PFAS, which are found in heat resistant and non-stick products such as Scotchguard, Teflon, and fire fighting foam. Unfortunately, neither PFOS or PFOA made it to the Regulatory Determination Assessment Phase, and both were removed from regulatory consideration.

What Is The Contaminant Candidate List?

The Fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 4) is the current batch of contaminants that’s under consideration for a regulatory determination. It was published in December of 2016, and includes nine cyanotoxins, two metals, nine pesticides, three disinfection byproducts, three alcohols, and three semivolatile organic chemicals.

Our Take:

While the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments provided regulatory due diligence, they also created an unbearably extensive review process. Industrial manufacturing companies are unrestricted when it comes to developing new products, and chemicals pushed to the market are essentially “safe” until proven otherwise. This sort of regulatory approach comes at a serious cost to human health. Chromium 6 is the best example of the flawed regulatory framework for drinking water. The 2000 blockbuster movie “Erin Brockovich” discussed the dangerous toxicity of Chromium 6 and it still isn’t regulated, nor does it appear on the most recent Contaminant Candidate List  (CCL 4). The most important takeaway from the EPA UCMR is that once a new CCL is published, the contaminants on the old list don’t just go away. Millions of Americans are forced to deal with adverse health effects because “scientific uncertainty” didn’t allow for regulation. This regulatory framework can't keep up with the thousands of new contaminants that are currently present in the environment. 

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
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Superfund: Cheraw, South Carolina

Ernesto Esquivel-Amores | Water Nerd

This week, Hydroviv is highlighting the six new National Priorities List (NPL) sites under the EPA Superfund program. Superfund sites are home to high levels of hazardous soil and groundwater contamination from years of improper disposal techniques. If you’d like to learn more about the ins and out of Superfund, check out our recap HERE. The next Superfund site that we’ll be discussing is located in Cheraw, South Carolina. 

Cheraw, South Carolina is home to another newly designated superfund site. This small town is home to roughly 6,000 people. EPA detected high levels of Polychlorinated Biphenyls, or PCBs in the sediment in residential neighborhoods and in nearby water streams. The source of this contamination is linked to a nearby textile mill. The water in Cheraw became contaminated because the facility created a drainage ditch was used to dispose of wastewater. Contaminated water from the drainage ditch infiltrated into groundwater, and was also transported onto residential lawns through stormwater runoff. Runoff also transported chemicals into surrounding wetlands and into the Grand Pee Dee River, the Wilson Branch Stream, and the Huckleberry Branch Stream. As a result, the state has issued a fish consumption advisory for all fish caught in the Grand Pee Dee River due to the high levels of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). PCB is a carcinogen and can adversely affect pregnant women, children, and other sensitive populations. For more information about PCBs please check out our site at hydroviv.com. If you live near a Superfund site and are concerned about your water, drop us an email at hello@hydroviv.com or visit hydroviv.com and use our live chat feature. Hydroviv is staffed with scientists and policy experts that can help you make sense of your water and find an effective filter, even if it isn’t one we sell.

If you live near a Superfund site and are concerned about your water, drop us an email at hello@hydroviv.com or visit hydroviv.com and use our live chat feature. Hydroviv is staffed with scientists and policy experts that can help you make sense of your water and find an effective filter, even if it isn’t one we sell. Be sure to follow along this week as we discuss all of the newly designated Superfund sites!

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Newly Designated Superfund Sites 
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