NACO Urges Congress to Increase SRF Funding

The National Association of Counties (NACO) has called for Congress to increase funding for clean water infrastructure costs. NACO, along with the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies and the Water Environment Federation, recently released a survey titled, "The Cost of Clean."

The National Association of Counties (NACO) has called for Congress to increase funding for clean water infrastructure costs. NACO, along with the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies and the Water Environment Federation, recently released a survey titled, "The Cost of Clean."

C. Vernon Gray, NACO president-elect and chairman of the Howard County, Md., Council, said "This survey clearly lays out the difficulties that counties and other local governments face in meeting the funding needs to pay for clean water.

"My county, as well as the rest of Americas counties, cannot keep pace with the infrastructure needs to keep our water clean. We need more federal assistance and more flexibility in the federal programs that already exist."

The survey said that in the first decade of the 30-year clean water program, federal and state governments contributed more than 80 percent of the funds needed to build the facilities necessary to assist local communities in their efforts to clean their rivers and streams.

Now local governments are bearing a least 90 percent of the capital investment burden, plus rising operations and maintenance costs.

The study said although the federal government continues to contribute to clean water infrastructure, rising costs and more stringent standards have made their contribution inadequate.

Bruce Tobey, Mayor of Gloucester, Mass., spoke for the National League of Cities. He said his city of 29,000 has spent $95 million to build a chemically enhanced primary treatment plant and associated works, modernize old facilities, and extend its sewage collection system.

He said federal and state sources paid $37 million and the balance must be paid by Gloucester residents.

"They pay an annual average household water and sewer bill in excess of $600 and each household added to the sewer system is paying an assessment in excess of $16,000."

Tobey said the city still faces significant costs: $10 million to expand is sewer system to serve more customers, $9 million to convert the wastewater treatment plant from primary to secondary, and $18 million to remediate combined sewer overflows.

He said that the wastewater plant project will raise annual water and sewer bills to $1,400 per household, and no price tag has been placed on the other two projects.

Arsenic Standard

A National Research Council panel has urged the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a stricter standard for allowable levels of arsenic in the nations drinking water supplies as soon as possible.

Arsenic Standard

Arsenic has long been identified as a toxicant, and in drinking water it has been associated with skin cancer and other disorders. Recent studies suggest that drinking water with high levels of arsenic also can lead to bladder and lung cancer.

Arsenic Standard

Robert Goyer, a retired professor who headed the study, said, "New information on arsenic exposure and cancer indicate that EPAs current standard for acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water does not sufficiently protect public health.

Arsenic Standard

"Although additional research on arsenic is needed, available data indicate that EPA should set a new standard to ensure that amounts of arsenic in U.S. drinking water supplies are at levels that minimize potential health risks."

Arsenic Standard

Inorganic arsenic, the form most likely to cause cancer, is a naturally occurring element in the earths crust. Arsenic is released into ground water that travels through underground rocks and soil. Water from wells often has higher concentrations of arsenic than does surface water such as lakes and streams. Arsenic also can be found in plants, fish, and shellfish.

Arsenic Standard

Serious health problems associated with very high levels of arsenic in drinking water have surfaced recently in India and Bangladesh. In the U.S., water supplies rarely contain levels of arsenic above EPAs current maximum allowable amount of 50 micrograms of arsenic per liter of water.

Arsenic Standard

That standard was developed decades ago, and remained in place after EPA performed an assessment of skin cancer risks in 1988. However, the EPA assessment did not include risks for lung and bladder cancer.

Arsenic Standard

NRC said new data and more precise models for estimating risk suggest that the likelihood of developing cancer from drinking water that contains the maximum allowable amount of arsenic greatly increases when lung and bladder cancers are included.

Arsenic Standard

For example, studies examining males who daily consume water that contains 50 micrograms of arsenic per liter show that they have about a 1 in 1,000 risk of developing bladder cancer, far exceeding EPAs goal of limiting cancer risks to 1 in 10,000.

Arsenic Standard

Moreover, the committee found that the choice of models used to estimate risks posed by arsenic in drinking water can significantly affect risk estimates. Congress has required EPA to propose a new maximum allowable amount for arsenic in drinking water by January 2000, and to finalize the new standard by 2001.

Arsenic Standard

NRC was asked to evaluate the latest information on the health effects of arsenic in drinking water and EPAs methods for assessing cancer risks. NRC was not charged with examining water treatment technologies or the economic impact of changing the standard.

Bottled Water

The National Resources Defense Council has warned that bottled water sold in the United States is not necessarily cleaner or safer than most tap water.

Bottled Water

NRDC said it conducted a 4-year scientific study on the subject because bottled water sales have exploded in recent years, largely as a result of a public perception of purity driven by advertisements and packaging labels.

Bottled Water

NRDC tested more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of bottled water. While most of the tested waters were found to be of high quality, some brands were contaminated: about one-third of the waters tested contained levels of contamination -including synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic - with at least one sample that exceeded allowable limits under either state or bottled water industry standards or guidelines.

Bottled Water

RDC said although both the federal government and the states have bottled water safety programs, they are inadequate to assure either purity or safety.

Bottled Water

At the national level, the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for bottled water safety, but the FDAs rules exempt waters that are packaged and sold within the same state, which account for between 60 and 70 percent of all bottled water sold in the U.S. About a fifth of the states dont regulate bottled water.

Bottled Water

The FDA also exempts carbonated water and seltzer, and fewer than half of the states require carbonated waters to meet their own bottled water standards.

Bottled Water

NRDC said even when bottled waters are covered by the FDAs rules, they are subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than those which apply to city tap water.

Bottled Water

For example, bottled water is required to be tested less frequently than city tap water for bacteria and chemical contaminants. In addition, bottled water rules allow for some contamination by E. coli or fecal coliform (which indicate possible contamination with fecal matter), contrary to tap water rules, which prohibit any confirmed contamination with these bacteria.

Bottled Water

Similarly, there are no requirements for bottled water to be disinfected or tested for parasites such as cryptosporidium or giardia, unlike the rules for big city tap water systems that use surface water sources.

Bottled Water

NRDC said about a fourth of bottled water is actually bottled tap water, according to government and industry estimates (some estimates go as high as 40 percent). And FDA rules allow bottlers to call their product "spring water" even though it may be brought to the surface using a pumped well, and it may be treated with chemicals.

Bottled Water

NRDC said the actual source of water is not always made clear-some bottled water marketing is misleading, implying the water comes from pristine sources when it does not.

Bottled Water

In 1995, the FDA issued labeling rules to prevent misleading claims, but NRDC said they have not eliminated the problem.

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