Industrial Waste and Our Water

June 22, 2017

Our water supply is highly vulnerable. While most do what they can to protect the safety of our water, there is a rising issue of industrial waste that is impacting the safety of our water supply. The EPA found that it can take years and sometimes even decades to clean chemicals from polluted water.  

In parts of the country where mining is high, the contamination of lead, zinc and other heavy metals are increasingly present.  In the 1970s in Picher, Oklahoma, lead and zinc mines were shut down resulting in a devastating outcome. The pollution from these mines was so bad that the residents of four towns had to be relocated. The water contamination was so detrimental that after a decade of attempting to clean up the water and an increasing amount of lead making its way into the blood of local children, the EPA had to help residents move.

These impacts of industrial waste have not gone unnoticed. In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act  (better known as the Superfund Program) in an attempt to help resolve these contamination issues. The Superfund Program helps to pay for cleanup when the parties responsible for the pollution can’t afford it, or simply will not admit their fault.

These issues of water contamination can result from improper regulations and even unexpected natural disasters. More recently, Hurricane Harvey left behind millions of pounds of industrial pollution. According to the EPA, 13 toxic waste sites were damaged or flooded from the Hurricane. With power outages causing these wastewater pumps to stop working, the results can be disastrous. The water supply is now extremely vulnerable to waste, pesticides and pollutants. Some of the chemicals released during this disaster contain PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls, which have a direct link to a diminished IQ among children and even cancer. While the cleanup continues, the water associated health risks will only rise. By increasing exposure to polluted water, you put your health at risk.  

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (several weeks after the hurricane), “ At least 168 water systems across the state impacted by Harvey still have boilwater notices, including the system in Beaumont, and 50 are shut down.”

Unfortunately, only time will tell how big of an impact this hurricane had on the water quality and safety. Disasters like this can cause issues for decades that will affect thousands of people and increase susceptibility to disease and health issues.

While you can’t personally stop these illegal disposals of waste and unforeseen disasters, you can take the precautions and steps to ensure you and your building have the safest water possible. DRF Water Heating Solutions can provide you with water treatment solutions and backflow prevention testing to protect potable water supplies from contamination or pollution due to backflow. In addition to backflow prevention, our licensed RPZ professionals can provide services for emergency repairs, regular maintenance, complete installation and more. Contact DRF today and take proactive steps to protect the quality of your water.