August 24, 1999
What's In Your Water?
Local Water Supplier Must
Keep Customers Informed
OLYMPIA, WA (SafetyAlerts)
- Want to know whats in your drinking water? Your local water supplier will be
letting you know just that very soon. Under a new federal consumer information regulation,
water utilities must inform their customers about the quality of their water, as well as
other vital public health information.
Beginning this year, community water systems
serving more than 25 people must provide their customers with annual "consumer
confidence reports" detailing the quality of the drinking water they serve.
In particular, people who are vulnerable to
illnesses, such as organ transplant recipients, HIV/AIDS patients, the very young, and the
very old, need this information to make knowledgeable decisions about what water they
should drink. Educated consumers are more likely to help protect their drinking water
sources and understand the true costs of safe drinking water as well.
"Information is a powerful tool in protecting
the publics health," Selecky, said. "This new public-right-to-know rule is
a giant step forward in consumer information and public understanding of drinking water.
It requires drinking water suppliers to provide the same kind of information weve
come to expect from the labels on our food."
"Does your water come from a lake, a river,
or from under the ground? Have bacteria or chemicals been detected? The reports will tell
customers where their water comes from, whats in it, and how those substances might
affect their health," Selecky said.
Washington State water suppliers are already
beginning to issue these reports which are expected to reach 4.8 million customers of more
than 2,000 community water systems.
Many water suppliers in Eastern Washington cities,
including Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, West Richland, Benton City and Prosser, are issuing
their reports during the next few weeks. Department of Health representatives will join
city officials in a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 31, 11 a.m., at the Pasco Water
Treatment Plant, to answer questions about the reports.
Washington State Department of Health Secretary
Mary Selecky urged consumers to use these reports to become better educated about their
"Public utility districts, like other water
utilities, want to make sure customers know how their drinking water is obtained and
treated. Customers have a right to this information, and well-informed customers can help
utilities make good decisions about water supply and treatment," said John Kounts,
Water Program Director of the Washington Public Utility District Association.
"Because PUDs are owned and governed by our customers, we see consumer confidence
reports as one more opportunity to communicate sound information to our
Requirements for these reports are the centerpiece
of the right-to-know provisions in the 1996 amendments to the federal Safe Drinking Water
Act. Nationwide, some 248 million people are expected to receive reports this year from
55,000 water systems.
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