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Report Lists AR Water Quality Issues by System

A new report shows tap water in many communities in Arkansas and across the country contains potentially dangerous contaminants. (Pixabay)
A new report shows tap water in many communities in Arkansas and across the country contains potentially dangerous contaminants. (Pixabay)
July 28, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new guide compiles test results from public water systems in all 50 states so people can double check their local water quality.

It says many systems in Arkansas contain contaminants at levels in violation of Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group released its Guide to Safe Drinking Water with test results from 55 public water systems in Arkansas and almost 50,000 systems across the nation.

"What we've done is made it interactive,” explains David Andrews, a senior scientist with EWG. “You can type in your ZIP code or search by a map to find your local water utility, and pull up information on the test results from your utility and how those results of water contaminants compare to the legal limit."

Andrews says some systems reported contaminants that are known to cause cancer, birth defects or illnesses, and were ordered to make corrections.

Utilities are ranked on a point system based on the number of water quality violations reported between 2011 and 2016.

Since the EPA hasn't updated the list of known contaminants for several years, Andrews says legal limits for some have not been established. He says water treatment plants treat the incoming water based on what's in it when it arrives.

"You have to use greater amounts of chlorine and you form greater amounts of disinfection byproducts when the source water is more contaminated,” he explains. “Increases in farm runoff, increases in pollution from urban areas upstream, impacts what's going into the water treatment facility."

Andrews says people don't have to drink their local water right out of the tap if they're concerned about it. The group also has a consumer guide to water filtration systems.

"There are a few simple steps that you can do in your home in terms of installing either a filter that screws on to your tap, a pitcher-type filter, or a slightly more expensive filter that goes under your sink that will greatly reduce or eliminate most of these contaminants," he explains.

Andrews adds that, despite its popularity, bottled water isn't a solution, both because of the cost and the added waste created by the bottles.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR