Vail Valley Voices: Water quality concerns |

Vail Valley Voices: Water quality concerns

Scott Robinson
Vail, CO Colorado

If you were to survey five of your friends about their top environmental concerns, most people would expect global warming to be at the top of the list. However, the 2011 Gallup Environmental Poll shows that 79 percent of Americans surveyed are concerned about the pollution of drinking water, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, along with the contamination of soil and water by toxic waste. Global warming comes in as the lowest concern of Americans surveyed, with 48 percent saying they are not much or not at all worried about it.

While Americans are very concerned about our nation’s water quality, bills are being passed in the House that, according to the EPA, would “significantly undermine” enforcement of the Clean Water Act of 1972. In late July, the House passed H.R. 2018, sponsored by Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and ranking member Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), by a vote of 239-184. According to the EPA’s official response to the bill, “the bill would overturn almost 40 years of federal legislation by preventing EPA from protecting public health and water quality. … The bill would prevent EPA from providing its views on whether a proposed project that pollutes or even destroys lakes, streams, or wetlands would violate Clean Water Act standards.”

Time will tell how these developments may affect Eagle County residents in the future. Thankfully, the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District does an excellent job of adhering to the Clean Water Act, as proven in their 2010 water report that confirmed “there were no violations for the year 2010.” They stated that “all drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk.” However, they also cautioned:

“Although filtration removes cryptosporidium, the most commonly used filtration methods cannot guarantee 100 percent removal. Our monitoring indicates the presence of these organisms in our source water and/or finished water. Current testing methods do not allow us to determine if the organisms are dead or if they are capable of causing disease. Ingestion of cryptosporidium may cause cryptosporidiosis, an abdominal infection … Most healthy people can overcome the disease within a few weeks. However, immuno-compromised people are at greater risk of developing a life threatening illness.”

Because of increased concerns about water quality, many people are turning to bottled water. In a recent test, the Environmental Working Group’s 2010 Bottled Water Report tested 10 major brands and found 38 pollutants ranging from trihalomethanes, fertilizers, bacteria, radioactive pollutants, pharmaceuticals, and synthetic chemicals used in plastic bottle production. Americans consume over 80 million plastic bottles every year, of which only 20 percent are recycled. The bottled water industry has grown to an annual $7.7 billion industry, using over 34 billion barrels of oil to make and transport the bottles. Thus, bottled water is not a safe alternative for your health, or for our environment.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

As Eagle County residents become more and more aware of the impacts of bottled water, they are choosing to filter their own tap water at the kitchen sink with filtration systems. Reverse osmosis purification is certified by the National Science Foundation and Water Quality Association to remove more contaminants than any other filtration process.

With more Americans becoming concerned about the quality of our water, the government eliminating the EPA’s ability to protect our nation’s water supply, and bottled water posing serious health and environmental concerns, only one solution makes sense. Those who are concerned about what is showing up in their water should act now to take water treatment into their own hands.

Scott Robinson is marketing and sales manager for Sundance Water Co./Kinetico.

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