[UPDATE] Report: Tallahassee Water Quality Surpasses Standards

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[UPDATE] 6-13 -

Report is attached in PDF format above.

The City of Tallahassee has released its 2011 Water Quality Annual Report; and as expected, results show that the quality of the City’s drinking water surpasses all regulations set by state and federal agencies. Drinking water standards for quality and safety in Florida are established at extremely stringent levels by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“These findings reinforce the City’s strong dedication to protecting public health and preserving our vital natural resources,” said Underground Utilities General Manager Mike Tadros. “To maintain the highest water quality, we operate a nationally-recognized certified laboratory, which performs water quality analyses with much greater frequency and stricter limits than required by governmental regulations. We're proud to be a part of this community and we care about the quality of life for our customers and future generations. For more than 100 years, we’ve been a staunch environmental steward and frontrunner in the water industry, employing new technology to maintain the highest of professional standards.”

All City of Tallahassee water customers should receive a copy of the report, either by email this week or via U.S. mail by the end of June. Copies of the report may also be downloaded via Talgov.com/YOU or obtained by calling Your Own Utilities at 891-4YOU (4968).

Also known as the Consumer Confidence Report, the federally mandated publication is designed to provide consumers with important information about their local drinking water, resource protection, governmental safeguards and other related topics. It highlights the City’s comprehensive water testing and analyses performed on a daily basis throughout the year and also serves as a detailed assessment of our water supply, distribution system and Water Utility services.

Each year, Your Own Utilities produces and sends the publication to its water customers by July 1 in response to provisions of the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act. For more information, please call Your Own Utilities at 891-4YOU (4968) or visit Talgov.com/YOU.

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Updated 12-24 6:36pm

The City of Tallahassee has now hired a consultant to review the findings of a report released earlier this week that show the city's tap water is contaminated with chromium-6.

The report that says Tallahassee has chromium-6 in the drinking water says the metal is potentially hazardous.

But, there are some scientists who say there's not much to back it up.

Now, a consultant for the City of Tallahassee and a U.S. senator are stepping in to help sort it out.

Tallahassee resident Barbara Jackson said, "I do drink the tap water."

Now that a report says that Tallahassee's tap water is contaminated with hexavalent chromium, Jackson's daughter, Crystal Green, says it's more than just her mother drinking from the tap that has her concerned.

Her mother's breathing machine requires water, too.

Green said, "To use that for something that's actually going to help prolong her life and then we're adding in additives that could be cancer-causing, it cancels everything out. For me it's a big concern."

The Environmental Working Group says Tallahassee ranks 6th out of 31 cities which have the chemical known as chromium-6 in it.

Tallahassee's water quality managers say they are not required to test for it.

Tallahassee Water Quality Manager Jamie Shakar told Eyewitness News on December 21st that, "The Tallahassee water is safe. It meets all the regulations."

A statement just released by the city says: "The City asked for laboratory information as the results reported by EWG are in conflict with more than 50 samples collected annually by the City. As such, the City has contracted with a consultant to review the EWG findings and report back."

Jackson said, "Until they tell me definitely 100 percent safe to drink then I probably will not really use the tap water much. I'm not quite sure how safe it really is."

Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson wants some answers too. He wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency secretary this week, saying: "I would urge the agency to develop a Safe Drinking Water standard and monitoring program for this metal."

Green said, "Having that stamping from the EPA is just like having the FDA on your food. So, I think we definitely need that stamp of approval to let us know that our water is okay."

Tallahassee water quality managers say they do test water samples every day for the presence of more than 20 metals, including chromium.

But, again, they are not required to test for chromium-6.

We will keep you posted on what the city's consultant reports back, as well as if and when Senator Nelson's letter sparks any guideline changes.

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UPDATED 12.23.2010 4:20pm

Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is calling on the EPA to conduct a nationwide study and establish a rule requiring water systems to check for a toxic form of chromium known as chromium-6.

The senator’s requests come after the nonprofit Environmental Working Group did its own review and found chromium-6 in 31 of the 35 cities whose water it sampled.

Nelson was among a small group of senators who met with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Senator Nelson's letter is attached above.

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[UPDATE] 12-23 9:30AM --

City of Tallahassee Statement:

The City of Tallahassee today reaffirmed the high quality and safety of its municipal water supply. This reassurance is given in the face of a report recently issued by a national environmental advocacy organization with concerns over possible contamination in municipal water systems from a compound called hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6.

Chromium occurs in many different forms in the environment and is a naturally occurring component in tap water. It’s also an essential micro-nutrient for human health The City tests drinking water for total chromium which includes, if present, chromium-6, one of several forms of the compound. The presence of chromium-6 in the environment is typically associated with heavy industrial activities generally not found in Tallahassee. The recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) cited the Erin Brockovich case, in which a man-made industrial by-product was improperly disposed. This is not the same issue as naturally occurring chromium in the Tallahassee area.

However, the City does conduct rigorous testing of its water supply for compounds like chromium. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have set a drinking water standard for total chromium (all forms including chromium-6) at 100 parts per billion (ppb). The annual water quality report for the City of Tallahassee contains vital information on the City’s drinking water and is available online at Talgov.com/YOU. The annual report shows the 2009 total chromium range between non-detectable and 2.5 ppb, with these values far below the EPA’s requirement of 100 ppb.

“For over a century, our citizens have received the finest drinking water delivered by the City of Tallahassee,” said Mike Tadros, general manager of Underground Utilities. “We provide our customers with safe water, under the vigilant scrutiny of our Water Quality Division, and we ensure it is well within all applicable federal and state guidelines.” Tadros added that in addition to being safe, Tallahassee’s water has also been recognized as the “Best Tasting Water” in Florida, as surveyed by the American Water Works Association.

The City’s Underground Utilities operates a State-certified and nationally recognized Water Quality Laboratory that is responsible for providing 24-hour monitoring of the water production and distribution system. The City also maintains an aggressive aquifer protection program to protect the groundwater source of Tallahassee’s drinking water, the Floridan Aquifer.

Laboratory information is usually shared among scientific groups, which allows proper review of sampling and data. EWG has refused to provide the data that went into its report. EWG had a volunteer collect a single sample and is attempting to base regional policy on that single sample. The City asked for the laboratory information as the results reported by EWG are in conflict with the more than 50 samples collected annually by the City. As such, the City has contracted with a consultant to review the EWG findings and report back.

A December 21 statement from EPA regarding chromium-6 is available online at http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/9A9BDA12333B623385257800007E5C84 .

Additional information on chromium from EPA can be found at http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/chromium.cfm .

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[UPDATE] 12-22 7:00AM --

WASHINGTON (AP) --

The chemical made famous in the movie "Erin Brockovich" now comes into view on a far wider scale.

The cancer-causing substance chromium 6 has been detected in tap
water in more than 30 cities throughout the country, a chemical
commonly discharged from metal plating plants, steel and pulp mills
and leather-tanning facilities.

Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein are calling on the
Environmental Protection Agency to protect the public from chromium
6. And Boxer plans to co-sponsor legislation to set a deadline for
the EPA to establish an enforceable standard for the chemical. The
Senate's environment and public works committee will also hold a
hearing on the issue come February.

Studies show chromium 6 can cause cancer in people, and damage
the gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes and liver of animals.

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UPDATED 12.21.2010 by Julie Montanaro

A new study which shows a known carcinogen in Tallahassee tap water is the talk in kitchens all over town.

The city says its water is perfectly safe and that it will look to the feds to set the appropriate guidelines for chromium-6.

Emily Geyer says she and her family drink water right out of the tap all day long. That includes sippy cups full of the cold stuff for her daugthers ages three and one.

A report released Monday by the Environmental Working Group shows Tallahassee has a contaminant called Chromium-6 in its drinking water ... registering at 1.25 parts per billion .... that's 6th on a list of 31 cities sampled.

"My immediate concern was for my kids. They're growing up with this and I don't want that in their drinking water," Geyer said.

We visited the City of Tallahassee's Water Quality lab. Chemists there test water samples every day for the presence of more than 20 metals, including chromium. The water quality manager says the city is not required to test for hexavelent chromium and will take its lead from the EPA which sets guidelines as needed.

"They have people who can review the science behind the parameters and what are cancer causing or hazardous to us, so, if there's a level that needs to be set I would look to EPA and DEP at that point," Jamie Shakar said.

Shakar says the city does test for total chromium and registers one part per billion a far cry from the 100 ppb's allowed.

"The Tallahassee water is safe. It meets all the regulations. We test it every day," Shakar said.

"Does that assurance mean anything to you?

"No, I don't think it does. I'm still going to go out and buy a filter. We're going to start filtering our water because I don't want to risk that for myself or for my children," Geyer said.

The City of Tallahassee has requested documentation and detailed lab results from the EWG, so it can review them further.

To read the study for yourself,
http://static.ewg.org/reports/2010/chrome6/html/home.html

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UPDATED 12.20.2010

A study by the Environmental Working Group found levels of Hexavalent chromium, more commonly known as chromium-6, in drinking water in 31 of the 35 cities it tested, including Tallahassee.

The highest levels were in Norman, Oklahoma, Honolulu, Hawaii and Riverside, California.

Tallahassee's drinking water registered 1.25 ppb for Chromium-6

Tallahassee's water quality chief, Jamie Shakar, points out that Chromium-6 is not regulated by the state of Florida or the EPA. He says Tallahassee looks to those agencies to set healthy standards.

Shakar says the state of Florida and the EPA do regulate "total" chromium, which has a maximum allowable level of 100 parts per billion. Tallahassee's drinking water has a total chromium level of one part per billion, Shakar said.

To read the study for yourself,
http://static.ewg.org/reports/2010/chrome6/html/home.html



 
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