Fish with both male and female sexual tissue have beendiscovered near wastewater treatment plants on the SouthPlatte River and Boulder Creek in Colorado. And it’s beendiscovered that utilities across the country have been lyingfor years about the lead levels in their drinking water.Biologist John Woodling says, ”This is the first thing thatI’ve seen as a scientist that really scared me.”
The sex changes in fish are probably being caused byhormones from birth control bills and hormone replacementthat end up in the water. Barbara Biggs, of the MetroWastewater Reclamation District, says, ”We don’t want toleap to any conclusions yet. There are a lot of estrogensources in the environment, and this is going to take time.”
Denver and nearby suburban areas pump their drinking waterfrom shallow aquifers connected to the South Platte. It’snot known whether the chemicals are present in their watersupplies or how the hormones will affect the humans whodrink the water.
Carol D. Leonnig and Jo Becker and David Nakamura report inthe Washington Post that utilities across the country aremanipulating or withholding water test results for lead toavoid regulation, which is a violation of federal laws.Millions of Americans are drinking more lead than they’rebeing told is in their water, which is particularlydangerous for pregnant women and young children.
Philadelphia and Boston have discarded tests that showedhigh readings or have avoided testing homes that are mostlikely to have high levels of lead. New York City haswithheld hundreds of test results that show high leadlevels, while assuring residents that the water is safe todrink. Lead levels in water in the District of Columbia areamong the highest in the nation, a problem the utilityconcealed for months.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has gone along withthis deception. In 2003, it ordered utilities to correctviolations in only 14 cases, which is less than one-tenththe number ordered in 1997.
If drinking bottled water the solution? The problem is thatmost of this water isn’t tested at all, and some of it isactually bottled tap water.
Jim Elder, who headed the EPA’s drinking water program from1991 to 1995, says utilities are engaging in “widespreadfraud and manipulation?I fear for the safety of our nation’sdrinking water. Apparently, it’s a real crapshoot as towhat’s going to come out of the tap and whether it will behealthy or not.”
If this keeps up, we’re all going to needhealing.
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