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The Drinking Water System Improvement Act Represents a Small Step Toward Safer Water Utilities

On October 23, 2018, President Trump signed the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, a rare bipartisan bill designed to improve the safety of drinking water in small communities while updating aging water pipes.

Prior to this new law monitoring for contaminants in public drinking water was only required of utilities serving 10,000 people or more. This left the drinking water of thousands of smaller communities largely unmonitored and unprotected.

Hoosick Falls – An Example and a Warning

A case in point was Hoosick Falls, New York. With a population of approximately 3,500, Hoosick Falls fell well short of the 10,000-person minimum for required water monitoring. As a result, it took four years–and a concerted effort on the part of Hoosick Falls resident Michael Hickey–to discover high levels of the carcinogen perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in Hoosick Falls’ drinking water. PFOA, also known as C8, is thought to cause kidney and testicular cancer. Hickey’s father died of kidney cancer after working for a local Teflon plant. Ultimately, PFOA from local Teflon plants were determined to be the source of the water contamination.

Hoosick Falls’ water contamination would have been detected quickly in a larger community. But as the town’s population is so small regular water monitoring was not required. Under the new Act, any water utility serving communities with 3,300 people or more will be required to monitor water contaminants.

Protect Yourself Against Contaminants

While this is great news for smaller communities throughout the USA, the new legislation still leaves some communities unprotected. Water utilities serving less than 3,300 people are not covered under the new ruling–leaving them vulnerable to a wide range of contaminants.

At the moment no filtration method available is certified to reduce the level of PFOA your water below the EPA established health advisory level. However, a recent Harvard study concluded that GAC carbon filters like those found in our POE Whole House Water Filtration System and in our 6-Stage Reserve Osmosis Filters are the best consumer products for combatting PFOA contamination, though the study also noted that some store-bought filtration systems are not equipped to filter PFOA and similar contaminants.

At Pelican Water we are constantly testing our systems for removal of contaminants like PFOA as we lead the way in improving water filtration standards. Our reverse osmosis system currently has NSF 58 certification, and our countertop drinking filter has NSF 42 and 53 certification. Install a Countertop Drinking Filter at minimum to guard against PFOA, and add a Whole House Water Filtration System if you have the means.

Aging Water Infrastructure A Potential Catastrophe

The new law will have other impacts, including providing $4.4 billion over three years for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund program and a $5 million annual grant for schools and day care centers seeking to replace lead contaminated drinking fountains. Unfortunately, these funds represent a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the $500 billion needed over the next twenty years to update and revitalize the nation’s aging water infrastructure.

Unless we make a commitment to fixing the nation’s water problem, we’re going to see more towns affected by water contaminants, from communities smaller than Hoosick Falls to major metropolitan areas.