December 2009

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I Can Hardly Wait

In this issue of the Occasional you'll hear about bottled water named after the demilitairzed zone and learn which city has the 100th best drinking water. Learn what drink Jackson Browne bans at his concerts and hear about the EPA's new program for saving water. Hear about the US military's anti-regulatory propaganda and learn how to remove vinyl chloride from drinking water. The magnificent water studies published by the New York Times, the fantastic number of bacteria in our bodies, the water usage of the Tiger Woods golf course in Dubai, the number of deaths each year from unsanitary toileting, and, as always, much, much more.
The Pure Water Gazette wishes you a Happy and Prosperous 2010.



While you were Christmas shopping, a lot of important things happened. Follow the links if you want to read more.

Water News From Around the World

Jackson Browne banned bottled water from concerts during his current tour.

A Korean bottled water company is drawing its water, DMZ brand,  from beneath the demilitarized zone, a place an Army publication calls "one of the most dangerous places on the planet."  

The EPA launched its "Water Sense" program, which is designed to save 10,000 gallons of water per home per year.

Evidence continues to mount tying drinking water deterioration to gas well drilling.

An iceberg twice the size of Manhattan island is heading toward Australia.  

One environmental group has focused its attention on ending bottle water purchases by state agencies to save money and resources.

The Environmental Working Group rated Arlington, TX water best in the nation and Pensacola, FL water 100th. 

Al Gore warned that record melting of Polar and Himalayan ice could deprive more than a billion people of access to clean water. 

A Lakeview, MN carwash has incorporated a recycling system that uses bacteria to purify its drainwater, allowing almost 100% reuse of its carwash water.


The New York Times' Great Water Article

by Hardly Waite

Back in 1992 when the paper Pure Water Gazette printed an entire issue called "The Gazette's Great Water Article,"  magazine stories about the condition of US waters were common.  Unfortunately, though magazines and newspapers keep grinding out articles that point out the same old shortcomings of the way the US cares for its most precious resource, nothing of significance has been done to change things since the Clean Water Act of the 1970s.

I regret to say it isn't  likely that things will change. 

There is simply no political will to address the serious problems facing the nation's water supplies, and there are rich and powerful vested interests who beat down every attempt at reform. 

Here are a few examples of the problems.

There are now, by the EPA's estimate, some 60,000 chemicals being used in the United States. The EPA, the regulatory agency which was created under the Clean Water Act to look after our water supplies, has regulatory standards for only 91 of these. The remaining 59,900 or so are not being monitored by your water supplier.

Attempts to broaden regulation are met immediately with crushing opposition from wealthy opponents in industry or even our own government.  States oppose regulations that would affect businesses, although the health of their citizens is at stake.

Every attempt to regulate use of the powerful water contaminant perchlorate, a rocket fuel ingredient, has been fought by the mighty propaganda machine of the US military.  Military propagandists publicly question the patriotism of proponents of perchlorate regulation. If you love your country, you'll drink your rocket fuel and keep your mouth shut.

The regulatory standards for the tiny number of contaminants the EPA has acted upon are pitifully inadequate, and enforcement is lax.   And the standards themselves are of very questionable accuracy.

The truth is that no one really knows how much vinyl chloride or benzene one can safely ingest over a period of years. Contrary to the mythology promoted by regulating agencies and water suppliers, the EPA's magic numbers aren't based on some concrete and absolute scientific standard that deserves our confidence.  EPA standards are politically negotiated numbers--backroom compromises that set the standard somewhere between an assumed safe level and what is convenient for the polluting industry or the water supplier.  Even the "science" used by regulators to determine safe levels is laughable; it is still based, now, in the 21st century, largely on "animal studies," a branch of science that would have died in the Middle Ages if it were not so profitable and useful to manipulators.

Similarly, few Americans seem aware of the deplorable state of the aging infrastructure that handles our water and sanitation systems.  The original Clean Water Act provided at least limited funds for the rebuilding of the nation's water and sanitation systems.  Since that time, although Congress has found ample funds for endless wars,  bank bailouts, and tax relief for the super rich, there is never any money for such unglamorous items as the expansion and repair of sewage systems that were designed for half the population that we now have.  In most urban areas today, even a 1/2" rain shower overwhelms the drainage system and pours thousands of gallons of untreated sewage and chemical runoff into drinking water reservoirs.   

These and many other aspects of the highly inadequate management of our water resources are discussed at length in an exceptional multi-article study that has been appearing during the past few months in the New York Times.   These well-documented pieces include information that cause one to think twice before trusting the water that comes straight from the tap.  From the Times' studies one learns, for example, that since 2004 “the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.”  The Times confirms the finding of previous Associated Press studies that one in six Americans is ingesting pharmaceuticals in their drinking water.

Most discouraging of all is the finding that there have been more than half a million violations of the Clean Water Act committed by water suppliers since 2004 and only 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or in any way punished by state and federal officials.

A substantial portion of the Times reports can be found here:

I hope you'll read them.  There's a wealth of information, and especially several video reports worth watching. Watch the videos. You'll like them.


Weed Cartoon


Featured Water Issue : Vinyl Chloride

This issue's featured water contaminant, vinyl chloride, is not found in nature. It's a man-made cancer causer that gets into water supplies mainly as a result of manufacturing emissions and spills. It serves as a raw material to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC) polymers (plastics). PVC is used to manufacture many industrial and consumer products: water and sewer pipe, wire insulation, floor and wall coverings, toys, medical devices, food packaging, etc. Vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen. It is a danger especially to workers in manufacturing plants where it is used. As a water contaminant, the greatest danger is from contaminated wells.

Removal of vinyl chloride is accomplished best by filtration with granular activated carbon and by reverse osmosis units. Some distillers remove vinyl chloride.

Go here for more information.

BB Sharper

Numerical water facts from B. Bee Sharper, the Pure Water Gazette's certified number wizard.

Water's percentage of the total 2009 beverage market: 25.

Percentage of bathroom showerheads that harbor unhealthy levels of bacteria, as reported in a University of Colorado study: 30.

Number of patents for water purification devices issued in 2008: 124.

Factor by which bacteria living in our bodies outnumber our own cells: 10 to 1. 

Daily water usage of the Tiger Woods golf course in a Dubai desert:  4,000,000 gallons.

Average daily water use by each American: 500 liters.

Average daily water use by each citizen of England: 200 liters.

Daily water usage increase in the U. S. since 1950:  127 percent.

Number of the 8 million inhabitants of Lima, Peru who have no source of water: 1.3 million!

According to the World Toilet Organization, the number of people (mostly children) who die each year from diseases associated with "unsanitary toileting" : 1.8 million.

Daily operating cost of vehicles used in deep sea exploration: $50,000.

Number of chemicals and additives allowed in the food supply by the U.S. government: over 10,000.

Number of chemicals and additives allowed in the food supply by the French government: 1700.

Percentage of US grain production that is currently being fed to animals in factory "farms": over 50%.

Percentage of all sickness and disease worldwide that are caused by lack of sanitation and unsafe water: 80%.


Go here for More B.B. Sharper.