Friday, November 22, 2013

Want A Drink?

Many of us don't give much thought to where the water comes from as we turn on the faucet. We know it has to come from somewhere, but few take the time to really understand their water's origins. I was one of those people; I never thought about it.

When I started to look into the topic, I became very concerned. The Triangle area of NC has a history of water quality issues. Even some waters located as close to a mile from the Environmental Protection Agency's state headquarters nearby, are impaired. 
Impaired waters are those that do not meet certain water quality standards set forth by the Federal Clean Water Act. The list of these water bodies is known as the 303(d) List.

So just how much of the Triangle's water is impaired? All of the areas in red are on the 303(d) list.
image take from ~ NCDENR

Impressive right? What's really alarming is those larger bodies of water North and West are drinking supplies for Raleigh and Durham. If the tributaries to our drinking supply are all impaired what does that really mean for the people drinking it? Sure water is treated before it comes out of your tap, but there is a greater issue here. 

I wonder what the states water situation will be in 10yrs especially with fracking on the table. For now I'll stick to water problems locally. 

One major problem facing our local water supplies is PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl, contamination. PCBs were primarily used in coolant fluids in electric motors, but they were also found in some household products like floor finishes. North Carolina was the site for one of the largest PCB "spills" in the country. One summer in 1978, PCB-containing oil was deliberately sprayed along some 240 miles of NC highway shoulders in 14 counties.

In fact, there is a major PCB "cleanup" area not 20 miles from my front door.

I say "cleanup" loosely. The major contamination near my house originated from a power company that dumped PCB-contaminated waste into areas around Crabtree Creek. The company is long gone, but the effect still lingers, and it has spread throughout the whole watershed. There is still a debate over who should pay to clean up the spill. The EPA has said that it will not clean up the downstream. They will monitor Brier Creek Reservior, Lake Crabtree, and Lower Crabtree creek, but it does not plan to clean those waterways. 

There is an all too familiar sign posted on many of the streams and ponds in the area. 

If the water you drink and the fish you eat could possibly give you cancer, do you feel a mere sign is good enough warning? Should there not be more education about the effects and consequences of these spills? I think this should be bigger news and clean water should be a higher priority for everyone. We all have to drink this water, and we should all be aware if its source.

Do you know where your water comes from? More importantly, do you know the quality of the source of your drinking water? Think about that the next time you turn on your faucet. Think about that the next time a stream cleanup day is advertised. 


  1. Hi Kevin. We have a well and the water that comes out of it is better than any bottled you can get. I also have a pond that I dam up to replenish the aquifer so even in the driest years (like this one) we always have plenty of water.

    1. Thanks for the comment Mark. Do you have fracking in your area?

  2. Excellent post, Kevin. I don't drink water from the tap, but probably, have many times in the past without even thinking. Appreciate the reminder and heads up. Fracking is a significant Colorado issue at this time.

    1. Mel, I use a Brita filter. Who knows if that's really doing much.

  3. Kevin
    Very informative read; another example of what we as a society has done to harm our streams, the water we drink and the environment. I wonder where all the bottle water comes from and how safe it really is. Of course we may not know for years to come if that water is really safe???? My wife and I drink bottle only, the reason is our water comes from the Warrior River, where there have been dead cows, horses, dogs and who know what else may be found. Thanks for making us aware of this precious resource.

  4. Boy, all the things I like to eat and drink are bad for you. We've sure made a mess of things.