Tuesday, March 11, 2014

WLRN "Got Water?" … a simple, glaring omission … by gimleteye

An in-depth investigative report on water by WLRN covers every angle of importance to South Floridians except one: pollution and toxics. All the good work in the report is undone by this single omission.

(One inaccuracy: pulling water from the Floridan aquifer and putting it into the Everglades. Water in the Everglades has ph characteristics and chemical properties that are significantly different from deep aquifer water quality. You cannot put Floridan aquifer water into the Everglades without massive, expensive treatment.)

This point-- about water QUALITY -- points to the fatal weakness of the WLRN report: issues relating to testing and toxicity of drinking water in South Florida.

The listening public deserves a correction: a follow up program to investigate all the issues related to regulation and testing. We know, for example, that widely used pesticides like atrazine have enormous impacts on biology and the integrity of creation. Public databases like those used by the Environmental Working Group to analyze drinking water supplies in the United States are incomplete.

A cursory google check turns up a NY Times report on Miami-Dade water quality and a link to an EPA website: "NOTICE: EPA is aware of inaccuracies and underreporting of some data in the Safe Drinking Water Information System. We are working with the states to improve the quality of the data."

In other words: BULLSHIT. Let WLRN investigative reporters go back to the Keys water supply wells and offer the public an insight to exactly how often and through what protocols, water from the treatment plant is tested for toxics is tested before being sent to the Florida Keys. (And the same, by the way, for water being sent to 2.1 million people drinking Miami-Dade water, too.)

At minute 32.50, the WLRN program moves to issues related to the Florida Keys that derives more than half of its drinking water through wells in Homestead, ringed by the most intensive industrial agriculture in South Florida. This segment covers only one subject: supply and quantity.

No discussion -- a glaring omission-- of quality and in particular quality related to toxics.

As an editorial aside -- Miami Dade Water and Sewer claims that drinking water meets all federal drinking water standards. But the testing requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act are not protective, thanks to the far right's pressure on Congress and the US EPA. This is where the WLRN do-over should start, not finish.

"Water is the source of life" says one Miami-Dade engineer as if to frame WLRN's good intentions. Then what about toxics in the water supply that deform the source of life? Not a word. The reporter/s wax poetic about the engineering feats delivering everything from sandals to marguerita mix to the Florida Keys. Not a word about toxics or the gaping holes in the EPA regulation of water quality affecting public health. That's just plain wrong.

I hear our readers asking the question: do you drink water from the tap. The answer is, yes, but not exclusively. Do I trust Miami-Dade County, the state of Florida, and the US EPA to protect my health through drinking water standards, testing, and compliance monitoring? No. Do I have evidence that toxics are in our drinking water supply?

The record of malfeasance by the US EPA and Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida in protecting drinking water supplies is clear. We know that coastal marine life turns up a record of deformities caused by toxics. We know that EPA drinking water tests poorly account for the extent of toxics in the environment and, moreover, that its budgets and staff capable of enforcement have been severely curtailed by a right-wing Congress. We also know that EPA itself acknowledges errors and omissions in Miami-Dade County: "system failed to complete all samples or sample in a timely manner, or had another non-health violation" and "EPA has no record of monitoring or other violations reported by the state for this water system". Confident now?

If WLRN were honest, it would go back and do it all over.


Anonymous said...

What kind of society requires you to go somewhere to read to interpret what you read in the news. Ugh.

Gimleteye said...

Part of what informs this commentary is that I've made the effort to track the accountability on water quality/toxics to the Florida Department of Health in the case of cancer clusters.

I think people are interested in cancer clusters. Do you?

I couldn't get very far on questions about jurisdictional boundaries, staffing/science used, budgets, and disclosure.

Without getting into detail, what I can say is that penetrating to the facts is like getting through the Kremlin as a private citizen. There are powerful, wealthy interests who depend on suppressing science and facts.

That's why, when "public radio" stretches out to talk about water and omits toxics, it raises certain questions.

Anonymous said...

Just in case anybody thinks they are save drinking bottled water around here, consider the fact that most of it comes from municipal water supply. Run through a few filters at the plant of course.
Here's to your health!
The beauty of this system is: If we take care of the water, it will take care of us. If not, not. Darwin at work!

Anonymous said...

talk about buried deep! get someone to look at the STRONTIUM-90 in the water from Turkey Point. It's a problem near nuclear reactors... and ive read a real big problem.... thanks for this post. I think so many people live toxic lives on so manyt levels that the consciousness about what they are drinking - that level of awarenesss is just not there. and I am not judging. I think it is horrible that people rely on the govt to care for their air, water, land (dont get me started with PESTICIDES EVERYWHERE INCLUDING PARKS AND WHAT THAT DOES TO KIDS AS WELL AS ADULTS AND PETS)... well you get my point. Here's hoping information helps... PS I heard Hollywood has an RO process on their water, not sure if that is true but would be a great town to live in if so.

Gimleteye said...

From Larry Fink:

Correction: Drinking water is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA) (http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/currentregulations.cfm), not the Clean Water Act, but where surface water is used as a drinking water supply, the surface water must meet Class I WQS and the treated water must meet the safe drinking water standards, the MCLs, at the point of discharge from the treatment plant into the drinking water supply system.

Atrazine and hexazinone are routinely detected by SFWMD's pesticide monitoring program managed by Richard Pfeuffer in the primary canals downstream of the EAA, and endosulfan was routinely detected downstream of the Miami-Dade tomato farms all the way into Florida Bay.

Atrazine has a SDWA MCL but not a WQS:
Atrazine 0.003 0.003 Cardiovascular system or reproductive problems Runoff from herbicide used on row crops Hexazinone is not regulated under either act. Endosulfan has now been banned by USEPA, in part because of Pfeuffer's data.

Anonymous said...

".....the WLRN program moves to issues related to the Florida Keys that derives more than half of its drinking water through wells in Homestead."

where do the Keys get the other 50% of its drinking water, if not from wells near Homestead?