By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director – Follow Lynn on Twitter (@LTCWA)
Yesterday in one of my favorite blogs (This Day in Water History), I learned that in 1916 drinking water service lines were required to be made of lead. That’s right. The lead pipes that plague us today were actually required because some pipes made of ot
her materials were springing leaks frequently and causing all sorts of havoc. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I’m interested in how we can prevent things like the lead pipe problem now. Are we making choices today about materials use and public health threat (not just in drinking water systems) that will lead to similar public health and infrastructure challenges? One thing we can do is to act on early warnings. If you are not familiar with the Late Lessons from Early Warnings reports by the European Environmental Agency, you might find them illuminating.
Another thing we can do is Put Drinking Water First. If we consider potential impacts on drinking water when making decisions about upstream activities, we will not simply protect public health and our drinking water sources but also make the most efficient and wise choices. That’s definitely true of an EPA Clean Water Act proposal about wastewater from fracking and other “unconventional” oil and gas drilling activities. EPA is proposing that this wastewater not be allowed to be disposed of in sewage treatment plants. Among the reasons is the potential impact on drinking water downstream when pollutants pass through the sewage treatment plants, which aren’t designed to handle the contaminants found in oil and gas wastewater. Read the rest of this entry »