Tag Archive: contaminated drinking water


The EPA is considering requiring ALL POTABLE WATER STORAGE TANKS in the U.S.A. TO BE INSPECTED AND CLEANED.

Ron Perrin Water Technologies Owner

Ron Perrin in Washington D.C. on 10-14-14 to attend EPA meeting

Washington D.C. 10-14-14

Washington D.C. 10-14-14

 

On October 15th 2014, the EPA held a public meeting in regards to Distribution System Storage Facility Inspection and Cleaning. I attended that meeting in person to express my opinion on this issue. During the meeting a couple of surprising things were revealed. Many were under the impression that water tanks and towers were already being inspected during Sanitary Surveys performed by state regulators, when in fact most, if not all, state agencies do not allow their employees to climb to the top of water tanks and towers.  The few states that climbed the towers in the past did not do an internal inspection of the facility.


A survey had been sent to state regulators to get their opinion on this issue. About half thought a regulation would be a good idea, the other half thought a paper on guidance would be sufficient. I went away from the meeting more convinced than ever that there should be a national regulation requiring all potable water storage tanks to be inspected and cleaned on a regular schedule.


The webinar is over but the EPA is still taking comments until the end of 2014. If you would like to make a comment on this issue, please send an e-mail to:  SFIWebinar@cadmusgroup.com.  Or take the poll below and I will send in the results at the end of the year. This is a chance to let your opinion be known!

My customers tell me they need less chlorine to meet water quality standards after I remove the sediment from their water storage tanks and towers. Sediment enters the tank one particle at a time and eventually accumulates enough for bacteria, protozoa and even viruses to use it as a habitat to grow and become a serious health problem. If proper inspections are not done to determine sediment levels, corrective action is seldom, if ever, taken. My opinion is that potable water storage facilities should be inspected inside and out every year, and a cleaning program to ensure tanks and towers are cleaned every 3 to 5 years should be in place on all tanks. What do you think? Take THE POLL BELOW and also visit http://www.tankdiver.us.

10-14-14 Washington D.C. Mall

10-14-14 Washington D.C. Mall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is important!  Please SHARE OUR POLL!

 

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Topic: Distribution System Storage Facility Inspection and Cleaning

Background: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water announces a public meeting and webinar on distribution system storage facility inspection and cleaning. The purpose of the meeting and webinar is to gather input and information from the public and stakeholders on the appropriate frequency of distribution system water storage facility inspection and cleaning, current practices, and the risk management approaches that can be taken to assure that inspection, cleaning and corrective action occur as necessary to help maintain facility integrity and finished water quality. The presenters and panelists will provide background information concerning storage facility inspection and cleaning, existing state programs and available guidance documents. For additional background information, please refer to the Federal Register notice published on Thursday, September 4, 2014 (79 FR 52647).

Public Comments: This meeting is open to the public. EPA encourages public input and will allocate time on the agenda for public comment. To ensure adequate time for public involvement, individuals or organizations interested in making a statement should mention their interest when they register. All presentation materials and statements should be emailed to SFIWebinar@cadmusgroup.com by October 8, 2014, so that the information can be incorporated into the webinar as appropriate. Only one person should present a statement on behalf of a group or organization, and statements will be limited to five minutes. Availability to make public comments will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis in the time available. Additional comments from attendees who did not pre-register to make comments will be taken if time permits. Comments, written statements, data or information can also be sent to SFIWebinar@cadmusgroup.com after the public meeting and webinar.

 

  1. Background

In the Federal Register notice for the proposed Revisions to the Total Coliform Rule (75 FR

40926, July 14, 2010), the EPA requested comment on the value and cost of periodic distribution

system storage tank inspection and cleaning. The EPA received comments regarding unsanitary

conditions and contamination that can be found in storage facilities, which are not routinely

inspected and cleaned, including breaches and accumulation of sediment, animals, insects and

other contaminants. Some commenters suggested the need for a Federal regulation requiring

systematic inspection and cleaning because the existing practices are not successful in all cases.

Others suggested that regular sanitary surveys conducted by States and the adherence to existing

industry guidance could resolve such issues. The comments can be reviewed in the docket for the

rule at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0878-0283. This

meeting and webinar and the subsequent opportunity to submit comments are intended to collect

more data and information about the frequency of distribution system water storage facility

Page of 4

inspection and cleaning and the need for more or better risk management approaches.

Dated: August 25, 2014.

Eric Burneson,

Acting Director,

Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.

BILLING CODE 6560-50-P

[FR Doc. 2014-21073 Filed 09/03/2014 at 8:45 am; Publication Date: 09/04/2014]

The New York Times has A series about the worsening pollution in American waters and regulators’ response.  I found a lot of great information reading this series.

What is in your water?

Working with the Environmental working group the New York Times has published an interactive site to allow you to better understand what is in the water we drink.  Find your utility here New York Times Water Data Web Site. In an Article titled “That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy”  published in the New York Times, December  16, 2009, Charles Duhigg points out

“Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times”.

According to Duhigg the reports published by the National Academy of Sciences and many other health reports suggest that millions of Americans become sick each year from drinking contaminated water, with maladies from upset stomachs to cancer and birth defects.

Read the entire article here: That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy

To find our what is in your water click this link: Environmental Working Group & New York Times interactive web page.

In July of 2010 the EPA requested comments on proposed changes to the

Total Coliform Rule.  The entire posting can be read on this link.

Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 134 / Wednesday, July 14, 2010 / Proposed Rules

I have posted the most interesting part (at least to me).

2. Storage Tank Inspection and Cleaning EPA requests comment on the value and cost of periodic storage tank inspection and cleaning. There are instances of storage tanks being the source of waterborne disease outbreaks at PWSs. In December 1993, a Salmonella typhimurium outbreak in Gideon, Missouri resulted in over 600 people affected by diarrhea, 31 cases of laboratory-confirmed salmonellosis and seven deaths of nursing home residents who had exhibited diarrheal illness (four deaths were confirmed by culture). The larger of the two storage tanks had a breach in the roof hatch that allowed pigeon droppings to be carried into the tank and likely accumulated in the several inches of sediment. This contaminated sediment, more than likely, was pulled into the distribution system by a flushing program that  drained the tank (Clark et al. 1996). Salmonella typhimurium was isolated from the sediment of one of the towers, and tap water tested positive for fecal coliforms (CDC 1996). In March 2008, Alamosa, Colorado (with a population of about 9,000 people) experienced a waterborne disease outbreak associated with Salmonella. The report released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (Falco and Williams 2009) indicated that the outbreak resulted in 442 reported cases of illnesses, 122 of which were laboratory confirmed, and one fatality. The State epidemiologist estimated that a total of 1,300 people may have been ill. Two storage tanks in Alamosa had several inches of sediment and breaches; one tank had breaches large enough for birds and animals to enter. Some of the key factors that contributed to these two outbreaks include significant levels of sediment (several inches to feet) and the presence of breaches of the integrity of the storage tank. Sediment accumulation occurs within storage facilities due to quiescent conditions which promote particle setting. Over time sediment continues to accumulate in a tank, even if the finished water is consistently treated tobelow 0.1 nephelometric turbidity unit(NTU). For surface water systems, it isnot uncommon to have 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch or more of sediment accumulate after two to three years (Kirmeyer et al. 1999).

While there are no turbidity regulations for ground water systems (except for ground water under the direct influence of surface water (GWUDI)), the levels of turbidity can be significant in the water pumped from an aquifer. Sand particles, if allowed to accumulate, provide pore spaces that house diverse populations ofbiota (which may include pathogenic microorganisms) (Kirmeyer et al. 1999; van der Kooij 2003). Periodic high flows in the storage tank may scour, stir up, and suspend the sediment (along with entrapped bacteria and pathogens) and carry it into the distribution system, with greater accumulation of sediment being a more significant concern. Other water quality problems associated with sediment accumulation include increased disinfectant demand and disinfection byproduct formation. The storage tank’s vulnerability to contamination increases when breaches of the storage tank allow insects, animals, and birds and their associated diseases to enter. Contamination from bird and other animal excrement can potentially transmit disease-causing organisms to the finished water.  Waterfowl, for example, are known carriers of many different waterborne pathogens including Vibrio cholerae(Ogg et al. 1989). Based on the potential public health implications associated with poorly maintained storage tanks (e.g., as indicated by significant sediment accumulation and breaches), EPA is interested in receiving comments and supporting information regarding the state and condition of tanks that have been cleaned and inspected, costs of storage tank inspection and cleaning, and how public health can be better protected. EPA requests information on whether there are States that recommend or require periodic inspection and cleaning of storage tanks. If so, what are the requirements, the frequency of inspection and cleaning, and how successful are they? Are inspections and cleaning done by individual PWSs or by contractors?

End

———–

The EPA extended the comment period until October 13, 2010.


Photos & comment from Ron Perrin:

Sediment Being removed from the floor of a water storage tank

Three inches of sediment being removed from a water tower.

Over time sediment builds up in almost all water storage tanks.  Only with annual inspection of the tanks can the utility operators know they have a problem with sediment levels or a possible breach in the tank.  The most common breach is missing or corroded vent screens.  In areas in the US where tanks are rarely or never inspected it is more common to see water storage tanks & towers with holes in the roof allowing insects and birds to enter the tank.

This sediment that builds up in the floor of the tank can become a breeding ground for bacteria, protozoa and even viruses.  As contaminants become a problem, the water utilities add more and more chlorine and other treatment chemicals. This kills living organisms but starts to build up chemical byproducts like chloroform, trihalomethanes, bromoform, and other contaminants that have been linked to cancer.

Removing the sediment in the floor of water storage tanks is the best way to keep them healthy.  It takes less treatment chemicals, less treatment chemicals means less chemical by-products in our water.  Please join me in responding to the EPA request for comment.  Let them know there should be rules to inspect and clean all water storage tanks that serve water to the public.

—————–

Related Information:

The New York Times has a series of articles called “Toxic Waters” about the worsening pollution in American waters and regulators’ response.  Read more at this link:

That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy By CHARLES DUHIGG Published: December 17, 2009

What’s in Your Water

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal. Examine whether contaminants in your water supply met two standards: the legal limits established by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the typically stricter health guidelines. The data was collected by an advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group, who shared it with The Times.  See the link below:

What is in your water? Find water Quality reports here:

You would think if an inspection of a water storage tank or tower shows a lot of nasty looking sediment in the floor, the tank would be cleaned.  But that is often not the case.  Our company performs water tank inspections with a custom made underwater video camera that enters the tank records the interior roof conditions and then makes its way to the floor of the tank.  The camera sends its video signal to the topside operator who records it on an HD recorder.

When our camera comes back with several inches of soft ugly sediment in the floor of a water storage tank or tower most people would assume that the utility manager would make sure that tank gets cleaned out ASAP.  The fact is most try, if it is a water tower the choice of doing it “In House” may not exist for many small utilities.  Water utility workers are just not trained or equipped to work 150 feet off the ground.  So the operator or utility manager request funds to get the tank cleaned.

Here is where the problem comes in, the city manager, city council or board of directors decide that spending money to clean the inside of a water storage tank or tower may not be a good use of the funds, often they  refuse to look at the inspection video.

While some utilities have good management, more and more are ignoring needed maintenance procedures because of shrinking budgets and bad priorities.  After all what is the most important priority for a water utility anyway?  We have several customers who hire us every year to inspect their water storage tanks & towers and every year we tell them their facilities need to be cleaned.

They tell us that they ask for the funds but are turned down for various reasons year after year.  In Texas, a rule in the Texas Administrative code 290.46 requires water utility operators to inspect their tanks & towers each year.  Many of our customers tell us because of that rule they can get funds to preform the tank inspection, but no requirements to clean the tank means its just not important.  I approach administrators as a contractor and they see me as a guy looking for work and somehow trying to trick them into looking at the inspection video.  This should not be a sales job.  Sediment Builds up in water storage tanks & towers over time,  it has already gone through the water treatment plant, its as clean as it is going to get.  The water goes from that water storage tank to your tap.  If the tank or tower is full of sediment bacteria, protazoa and even viruses can find a safe harbor where they get a foothold in the water system and grow.  Removing the sediment from the floor of the tank removes the habitat that contaminates can hide and thrive it.  Florida has one of the best rules in the country requiring that water storage tanks & towers be cleaned at least once every five years.  The American Water Works Association recommends that water tanks be cleaned every three to five years or as needed.  How long would you use a water glass in your house without washing it?  The City of Arlington Texas was recently ranked the # 1 water in the country.  I happen to know they clean their water storage tanks every year.

Nationally, there are approximately 170,000 public water systems (PWS). These public water systems range in size from large metropolitan areas to rest stops and campgrounds, provided that they meet the public water system definition. The definition of a public water system is a system for the provision to the public of water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances, if such system has at least 15 service connections or regularly serves at least 25 individuals. Nationally, 22% of the public water systems (approximately 37,000 pws) had violations of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations in calendar year 1999.  I recently read an estimate that there were more than 400,000 water storage tanks and towers in the U.S.  The majority of them probable need to be inspected, cleaned or both right now.

Isn’t it time we demand clean water for everyone?  Isn’t it reasonable to demand that all water storage tanks & towers be cleaned at least once every five years?  What good is a multi million dollar water treatment plant if the clean pure water is pumped into a forty year old water tower that has never been cleaned?  It is just basic housekeeping, floors need to be cleaned from time to time water storage facilities are no different.  The difference is without a law, a rule a code too many of us are drinking from water tanks that rarely if ever get cleaned.  I think water tank inspections and cleanings should be part of the the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations.  If we had some basic housekeeping in the rules, it may well be that the overall water quality violations greatly decrease because contaminates will routinely be removed from water systems before they become a threat.

For More information on EPA enforcement of the Safe Water Drinking Act Click here  EPA compliance and enforcement of the Safe Water Drinking Act.



Tap water in 42 states is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards, according to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) two-and-a-half year investigation of water suppliers’ tests of the treated tap water served to communities across the country.

In an analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests, most of which were required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, EWG found that water suppliers across the U.S. detected 260 contaminants in water served to the public. One hundred forty-one (141) of these detected chemicals — more than half — are unregulated; public health officials have not set safety standards for these chemicals, even though millions drink them every day.

EWG’s analysis also found over 90 percent compliance with enforceable health standards on the part of the nation’s water utilities, showing a clear commitment to comply with safety standards once they are developed. The problem, however, is EPA’s failure to establish enforceable health standards and monitoring requirements for scores of widespread tap water contaminants. Of the 260 contaminants detected in tap water from 42 states, for only 114 has EPA set enforceable health limits (called Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs), and for 5 others the Agency has set non-enforceable goals called secondary standards. (EPA 2005a). The 141 remaining chemicals without health-based limits contaminate water served to 195,257,000 people in 22,614 communities in 42 states.

Read the full report Here: http://www.ewg.org/tapwater/findings.php 

To date only the State of Florida has set standards for cleaning water storage tanks.  Not only should standards be set for additional contaminates I thisnk is is just as or pehaps more important that standards be set for keeping tanks clean.  At this time it is just not understood how much sediment accumulates in an average water storage tank over a few years.  That sediment becomes a habitat where bacteria and other contaminates can thrive. 

Once in your tank bacteria can grow rapidly if it finds a place to hide from the treatment chemicals sent to destroy it.

See the video; Bacteria Growth  http://current.com/items/89137743_bacteria_growth

The EWG’s report also points out that “90 percent compliance with enforceable health standards on the part of the nation’s water utilities, showing a clear commitment to comply with safety standards.” If standards are put in place giving water utilities a time table that water storage tanks should be cleaned and or inspected the water utilities will comply.  For the most part they or the people controling their funds do not understand the improtance of inspection & cleaning. 

Even after the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) two-and-a-half year investigation of water suppliers’ tests of the treated tap water served to communities across the country.  No one looked at the effects of Sediment in the water storage tanks.  It apparently was not an issue, never thought of,  the investigation only looked at reports of what the water utilitys found in their systems.

Keeping your water storage tanks clean may be one of the most overlooked maintenance procedures in the water industry.  Out of sight and out of mind, sediment in the bottom of your water storage tanks is never seen and rarely thought of. 

In 2002 The EPA Office of Ground and Drinking Water issued a paper on distribution systems titled “Health Risk From Microbial Growth and Biofilms in Drinking Water Distribution Systems”.  See the link below to read the full report.

That report sited –

Hepatitis A is a  primary pathogen that has been documented to survive more than four months in the sediment of a potable water storage tank.  

 

Bacteria, protozoa, and viruses can find sediment in the floor of a water storage tank an inviting habitat.

 

So if the EPA knows all of this why are most water storage tanks so dirty?  Like most thisngs in comes down to MONEY.

If you live in a new progressive community the likelyhood of your water storage tanks being inspected and cleaned on a regular basis is much better than if you are in a older, smaller and les affluent community.  If regulations are put into place money would need to follow to allow ecanomically depresed communities to maintain there systems properly.

 

I have been inspecting and cleaning water storage tanks since 1992.  What I have seen is the more ecanomically depresed  the community is the more likely they are to need their tanks cleand.  They are also more likely to drink more tap water.  I would think that the more affluent a community the more bottled water is consumed.  So we end up with the people who need clean tap water the most getting it the least.   I have found something important to do but I cand only help a very small % on my own. The health concerns associated with sediment in the water supplies are much biger than I am.   It is bigger than papers written and published by the EPA detailing the problem. It will take the general public to be concerned and perhaps a little sikened and outraged wouldnt hurt.  It will take people like you and me making noise and getting attention on this subject before the proper action will be taken. The Mission of this blog is to make some noise on this subject.  Let me know what you think.

If you are interested in this subject there are a few things to do:

Leave a comment:  Subscribe to this blog for future updates.

Check out my video site:

http://current.com/people/ronperrin Leave a comment: Vote the VIDEO up so it will make it to to the current cable TV Channel. 

The EPA has published many reports on this subject.  The work has been done to establish the problem.  Its up to us to make sure something gets done about it. 

Hope to hear from you soon

Ron Perrin

Additional referenced and papers from the EPA.

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/disinfection/tcr/pdfs/whitepaper_tcr_biofilms.pdf

http://www.epa.gov//safewater/disinfection/tcr/pdfs/issuepaper_tcr_inorganiccontaminantaccumulation.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/arsenic/pdfs/occurrence.pdf

http://www.epa.gov//safewater/mdbp/word/alter/chapt_2.doc

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/wot/pdfs/book_waterontap_full.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/tcrdsr.html

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