Wednesday, April 28, 2021

DC Water’s Clean River Project

Next month DC Water will begin a project in Georgetown to provide the area with separate pipes for stormwater and for sewage. Called sewer separation, it keeps stormwater from entering the combined sewer system, which can overflow during rain events due to the larger volume. The old sewer pipes will carry the stormwater and the new pipes will carry the sewage. Sewer separation is just one component of the plan to mitigate combined sewer overflows to the Potomac River, and is part of the larger Clean Rivers Project that is cleaning up all three waterways in the District. 

Due to the age of the Washington DC sewer system, parts of those systems are what is called combined systems where sewer and stormwater are carried through the same pipes. When it rains, untreated sewage and rainwater in the single combined sewage pipe is discharged through what is called a combined sewer outfall into Washington DC’s rivers and creeks. The two outfalls identified in the map below will be converted to stormwater only outfalls. 

from DC Water

Washington DC conceived agreed to the Clean Rivers Project under a consent order from the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, to meet new effluent limits for total nitrogen released and better control of the system during rain storms. The Clean Rivers Project is comprised of a system of deep tunnels, sewers and diversion facilities to capture combined sewer overflows and deliver them to DC Water’s Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant when the capacity is available to treat them.

The Clean Rivers Project was estimated to cost $7.8 billion over 20 years. It includes increased treatment facilities,  "diversion facilities" which are the Anacostia River and Potomac River tunnel systems include more than 18 miles of tunnels built more than 100 feet below the ground. At completion the tunnels will be able to store a total of 157 million gallons of sewage until capacity is available at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant for treatment.

DC Water opened the 7-mile-long, 23-foot-wide Anacostia tunnel that runs between RFK Stadium and the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant on March 20th of 2018. Work continues on the Potomac Tunnel. In addition, Blue Plains treatment capacity was expanded and improved, and green infrastructure added though out Washington DC. In addition to constructing a tunnel, DC Water is using sewer separation to reduce overflows from two of the combined sewer outfalls. 

Commenting on the project, DC Water CEO and General Manager David L. Gadis, said, “DC Water’s sewer separation project in Georgetown is an important step in improving the health of the Potomac River. When the Potomac River Tunnel is completed by 2030, these two projects will reduce combined sewer overflows to the river by 92 percent.”

The Georgetown Waterfront from DC Water

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Our Drinking Water is in Danger

The safety of drinking water is one of the most important public health issues in the United States or for that matter anywhere. During the 20th century efforts to achieve safe drinking water lead to developing drinking water quality regulations under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Safe Drinking Water Act (EPA SDWA). During that time providing safe drinking water focused on water filtration and treatment to kill bacteria. It was felt that simple reliable treatment could address any deterioration in source water quality.  Unfortunately, in our country where population is increasingly concentrated around crowded urban centers this may no longer be true.

Variations in water quality have undermined the ability of even advanced water treatment plants to control water quality and treatment and provide safe drinking water consistently and effectively. The rain and snow melt carrying pollutants from the air moves through the watersheds into streams and rivers and picks up additional contaminants along the way. As the water travels over the land surface or through the ground on its way to the rivers, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and vegetation (organic matter) as part of the natural process. The water also picks up surface contaminants including  pesticides, herbicides and other synthetic/volatile organic chemicals from agricultural land, golf courses, or residential and urban lands.  Additionally, some previously unrecognized contaminants in trace amounts, pass through the treatment plant. There is a need for source water quality protection as an additional “barrier” to contamination and additional treatment may be necessary to deliver water free from chemical contamination.

Regionally, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), the Washington Aqueduct, Fairfax Water and Loudoun Water treat raw water obtained from the Potomac River, Patuxent River and Reservoirs and Occoquan Reservoir.  Potential sources of contamination in the region include transportation, petroleum pipelines, agriculture, onsite septic systems, wastewater treatment plant discharges, developed areas, and minor permitted discharges, storage tank leaks and spills. Contaminants of particular concern to the water companies include; phosphorus, agricultural runoff, natural organic matter and disinfection byproduct (DBP) precursors, pathogenic microorganisms (Cryptosporidium, Giardia, fecal coliform), taste and odor-causing compounds, ammonia, sediment/turbidity and algae.

Water drawn from the Occoquan Reservoir, the Potomac River, the Patuxent River Reservoirs is treated in the regional water treatment plants and is continuously tested for the contaminants regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act before being sent to homes and businesses through the region. The first step is coagulation and flocculation (to make small particles and microorganisms in the raw source water adhere to each other); sedimentation (to remove most of those particles and microorganisms); filtration (to remove nearly all the remaining particles and microorganisms); disinfection (which varies across the treatment plants but kills bacteria and microbial pathogens); corrosion inhibitors/ pH adjustment (to minimize the potential for dissolving lead solder used in older homes and laterals lines); and fluoridation. Orthophosphate is also added to help minimize lead corrosion and copper pipe pinhole leaks in home plumbing by creating a protective film in pipes.

To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, EPA prescribes regulations, which limit the amount of certain contaminants in water that public water systems provide. The Safe Drinking Water Act regulates almost 90 substance, but that is a tiny fraction of the chemicals in use in a modern industrialized society. The quality of the water being produced at all our regional water treatment plants meets or exceeds all the US EPA standards and requirements. However, not all potential contaminants are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Traces of pharmaceuticals, hormones and personal care products associated with everyday life in the United States are finding their way into groundwater and streams through septic systems and wastewater treatment plants and these micro pollutants can find their way into drinking water supplies. Drugs that people take are not all metabolized, and the excess ends up in our wastewater leaving homes and entering the sewage-treatment plants. These drugs have been detected in streams miles downstream from wastewater-treatment plants because most plants do not routinely remove pharmaceuticals from water. Antibiotics and drugs are also used in the livestock industry, and for streams receiving runoff from animal-feeding operations, pharmaceuticals such as acetaminophen, caffeine, cotinine, diphenhydramine, and carbamazepine, have been found in USGS studies.

Other problems are showing up as well, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the results of a new analysis, they commissioned of tap water samples from throughout the Northern Virginia region. The results detected some PFAS contamination in 19 samples of tap water ranged from about 6 parts per trillion, or ppt, in a state park in Fairfax County, to about 62 ppt in a public park in Prince William County. These levels though much higher than samples previously taken in Northern Virginia, are still below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) health advisory level of 70 ppt, that level is screening level, not a health based maximum contaminant level (MCL) for drinking water. The EPA has decided to move ahead and regulate PFOS and PFOA two of the group of chemicals called PFAS that are known as “forever chemicals” because they build up in our blood and organs, bioaccumulate, and do not break down in the environment.

Fairfax Water says “There are no treatment processes available for drinking water utilities that would not significantly increase water rates for customers. Nor would such treatments produce a demonstrated health benefit.”  Changing the water treatment chain at the Corbalis and Griffith water treatment plants would be necessary to treat the source water to remove PFAS. According to Fairfax Water this would "significantly" increase the cost of water for all the residents of Fairfax and Prince William Counties and unless there is a demonstrated health benefit they cannot justify the cost to the customers. So, they will wait for the EPA to develop a health based MCL. In the meantime we need to better protect the Occoquan Reservoir from chemical spills and accidental releases that are believed to have caused the PFAS contamination increase.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has recently announced a settlement with Verso Corporation, owners of the Luke Paper Mill in Western Maryland, for seepages into the North Branch Potomac River. Samples of the substance being released to the river suggested the presence of ‘black liquor,’ possibly mixed with coal ash. Black liquor, a caustic mix of chemicals and wood waste from the paper-making process at the now closed plant, has a high pH, and contains hazardous constituents at concentrations that are harmful to aquatic life and humans. Coal ash contains a range of harmful constituents, including arsenic, mercury and boron, all of which were found in the Potomac Riverkeepers sampling. A petroleum odor was also noted by MDE. 

The former Luke Paper Mill is upstream of the intakes for all the regional water treatment plants and though well diluted by the Potomac can still enter our drinking water treatment plants. Protecting the Potomac River from chemical spills and releases is necessary to ensure that our dinking water remains safe. The time has come to limit the life of storage tanks, require removal are remediation of all closed manufacturing plants, and provide a natural barrier to pollution by limiting development in our essential watersheds. Development impacts water quality. Minimizing impervious surface cover and maintaining the tree canopy is critical to the protection of the region’s streams which flow to the Potomac River and Occoquan Reservoir. There is a direct correlation between stream health and impervious surface cover and tree canopy. According to the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, watersheds with impervious surface cover of 10 to 15% show clear signs of degradation, and when impervious surface cover is greater than 25% no longer can support a diverse stream ecology and are dying.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day is April 22

Thursday, April 22 marks the 51st Earth Day. The first U.S. celebration of Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970.  The Biden Administration has decided to convene a virtual global climate summit on Earth Day 2021.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry set off to China ahead of the climate summit last week to discuss international efforts to tackle global warming. Secretary Kerry has been making the rounds to media and urging countries around the world to set ambitious targets for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. China is the world’s largest generator of greenhouse gases.

 The United States is set to announce its own new target for emissions cuts by 2030 at the global climate summit. Global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels and industry increased by 2.2% per year on average between 2005 and 2015 (Le Quere C 2018). In order to limit climate change to below 2 °C of warming global emissions CO2 need to peak and decline rapidly. Without China and India agreeing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the near term, there is no hope of achieving any meaningful action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists once hoped that CO2 emissions could be held below the “tipping point,” now the plan is to quickly reach peak emissions and then reverse course reducing global net human-caused CO2 emissions by about 45 % from 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching ‘net zero’ emissions around 2050. (Forbes, 2019). Peak emissions will occur when China and India peak in their emissions.

Data for my pie is from: Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser (2017) - "CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions". Published online at

This year the theme given to Earth Day 2021 by the Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, is “Restore Our Earth.“  I think we should take that to heart and begin the restoration of the earth in our homes and lives.

The U.S. EPA says “Our actions impact the environment. Each thing we do can help or hurt our planet in many ways.” Cherishing and being a good steward of the earth is how to begin, not yet another online conference.  EPA has tools to help you learn and understand the issues and help you reduce your environmental footprint. Learn more about your carbon footprint and ways you can work for a more sustainable future.  Then begin by reducing all the waste in your life and get outside to appreciate what we still have.

Carbon Footprint Calculator | Climate Change | US EPA

Smart Growth Publications | Smart Growth | US EPA

About Smart Growth | Smart Growth | US EPA

Sunday, April 18, 2021

DC Water Gets EPA Loan

Recently at an event with Washington D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser,  DC Water General Manager David L. Gadis, and other local officials, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan announced a $156 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). This loan will help finance water infrastructure improvements throughout the city, including new water mains to improve drinking water quality and reduce service disruptions resulting from breaks in aged pipes.

DC Water serves more than 700,000 residents and has lagged behind in maintaining it water infrastructure. They estimate that their Comprehensive Infrastructure Repair, Rehabilitation and Replacement Program will cost $319 million.  EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that figure—saving DC Water an estimated $30 million in financing costs.  The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014 established the WIFIA program which is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA was created to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. 

Funding for drinking water infrastructure has not kept pace with the growing need to address the aging infrastructure. The federal government’s share of capital spending in the water sector fell from 63% in 1977 to 9% of total capital spending in 2017. The Presidents next two trillion spending plan proposes $56 billion toward upgrading and modernizing America's wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water systems through grant and low-cost loans, another $45 billion allotted specifically toward a goal of removing 100% of lead service lines in the nation.

Washington DC’s 2019 internal audit has found that, based on reports submitted to the EPA there is still measurable amounts of lead in Washington DC households' drinking water. From testing it is know that lead is not present in the water before it enters the DC Water distribution system. The lead is coming from either the piping delivering water to the homes (the laterals) or from the household plumbing. 

In 2003, the EPA required DC Water to begin an accelerated lead pipe replacement program. In support of this mandate, the city passed a resolution to fund the lead pipe replacement program in 2004. This resolution required DC Water to replace all known lead service lines in public space by September 30, 2010, and replace any newly discovered lead service lines within 90 days of discovery. The resolution also required DC Water to encourage customers to  replace their private side portion of the lead service lines when the public side is replaced, offering the property owner the same rate as DC Water’s actual cost. This did not happen. The program came to a grinding halt when it was discovered that replacing half the line made the lead problem worse.

Based on information in DC Water’s service line inventory database, there are a total of 125,574 service lines in Washington DC. There are 19,103 sites with known lead service lines throughout the District. However, the pipe material for 98,969 of 125,574 service lines on customers’ properties were unknown. At the 2019 rate of replacement, it would take 36 years to replace all 19,103 known sites with lead service lines. If a significant portion of the unknown service lines are made of lead, replacement could take many multiples of that estimate. Hopefully, this $156 million WIFIA loan to DC Water will finally allow them to fix the lead pipe problem in DC.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Maryland Settles with Verso

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has announced a settlement with Verso Corporation, owners of the Luke Paper Mill in Western Maryland, for seepages into the North Branch Potomac River that threatened the Potomac River, the regional drinking wate supply, public health and the environment.

This consent decree settles a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on behalf of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) on March 24, 2020, alleging that the release of pulping liquor at the Verso Luke Mill created an imminent and substantial endangerment to Maryland under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The State of Maryland intervened in the lawsuit on May 28, 2020, alleging, in addition to the RCRA claim, violations of state environmental laws.

Verso repeatedly discharged toxic pulping liquor intoMaryland’s waters,” said Attorney General Frosh. “These repeated discharges degraded water quality and were harmful to fish and wildlife. Today’s settlement requires Verso to stop its discharges of pulping liquor, develop and implement a remediation plan, and pay a  civil penalty of $650,000, reimburse the State’s attorneys’ fees, and pay past and future costs to the State for the oversight of the investigation and remediation." This settlement allows the future redevelopment of the site while  the investigation and remedial work to continues at the site.

This all began in April 2019, when a fisherman saw and reported to the State of Maryland that “pure black waste” was entering the North Branch Potomac River near the mill. This observation was confirmed by the investigation of the siteundertaken by the Potomac Riverkeepers organization. They took samples that showed high pH levels, high sulfur and sodium contents and metals such as mercury and boron.

To the Riverkeepers the analysis suggested the presence of ‘black liquor,’ possibly mixed with coal ash. Black liquor, a caustic mix of chemicals and wood waste from the paper-making process at the plant, has a high pH, and contains hazardous constituents at concentrations that are harmful to aquatic life and humans. Coal ash contains a range of harmful constituents, including arsenic, mercury and boron, all of which were found in the Potomac Riverkeepers sampling. A petroleum odor was also noted by MDE.

The pulping liquors were stored in tanks on the West Virginia side of the river. In November 2018, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued an order to Verso to empty the tanks on their side of the river. In response, Verso piped material from the tanks in West Virginia to tanks in Maryland.

Starting April 2019, MDE directed Verso to determine the source of the seepage and take steps to contain and remove the discharge. Verso submitted a report on field work done by a contractor and, in February, submitted to MDE a “Remedial Investigation & Corrective Action Plan” describing the company’s next investigative steps, but the seepage continued and Verso was not entirely cooperative with MDE requests.

MDE filed a federal lawsuit under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) against Verso. Once the plant was closed the site became subject to regulation and enforcement under RCRA. Essentially, if it is not an operating plant it is a waste disposal site with an ongoing release. Finally, after MDE sued Verso they settled.

The Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) has been the driving force behind the regulators maintaining focus on the Verso release and should receive all our thanks for keeping this regulatory action moving forward to protect us all. The Potomac Riverkeeper Network is a party to the agreement that also requires Verso to pump and treat contaminated groundwater, close a coal ash waste lagoon, and conduct monthly water quality sampling in the river and groundwater for at least three years following all cleanup measures to verify the cleanup.  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Cicadas are Emerging- Help Map Them

Brood X area

Many people know periodical cicadas by the name "17-year locusts," but they are not the locusts of the bible. Those were a type of migrating grasshopper. However, if you live in the area of this year’s emergence, when Brood X of the 17-year cicadas arrive in mid-May, it may indeed feel like a plague for a few weeks. When they emerge in mass, you can report periodical cicadas using the Cicada Safari App, available on the Google Play Store or the Apple Store.  This will help scientists map the full extent of Brood X. If it does not feel like you are being inundated and you only see a few cicadas, they are probably stragglers from other broods and should not be reported.

The Washington Metropolitan Area will be at the epicenter of the Brood X emergence which will cover parts of 14 states. In Virginia there are eleven primary broods of the 17-year cicada and two primary broods of the 13-year cicada. Every year they emerge somewhere within the Commonwealth, but Brood X due any week now is one of the largest and impacts our area in Northern Virginia including Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax, and Fauquier counties and into the

Cicadas, probably both Magicicada septendecim and Magicicada cassinii will emerge from the soil and climb onto nearby vegetation and other vertical surfaces. They then molt to the winged adult stage. The emergence is tightly synchronized, with most adults appearing within a few nights. Adult cicadas live for only two to four weeks. When the 17-year periodical cicadas emerge the density can be shocking and noisy. It is common to have tens to hundreds of thousands of periodical cicadas per acre, but there are records of up to a million and a half periodical cicadas in an acre. This is far beyond the density of most other cicada species and half of the cicadas are “singing.” Male cicadas sing quite loudly by vibrating membranes on the sides of their abdominal segment. Male songs and choruses are a courtship ritual to attract females for mating. If you hear the cicadas chorus in the spring take a picture and report thefinding to the University of Connecticut that is running the mapping projectusing their phone apps.  

The males’ choruses have been known to drive people to distraction-stay inside with the windows closed if needed. However, for most people, the droning song of the cicada is nothing more than a slight annoyance. To me the “song” sounds like wind on a cell phone connection, but you can listen to the actual chorus on the u-Tube video. Most people are more familiar with the dogday cicada that is prevalent annually in mid-summer. Their song is later in the summer and not as persistent.

The 17 year or 13-year periodical cicada is black, with red eyes and orange legs. “Adults have clear wings with distinctive orange veins. When viewed from the front the wings form an inverted "V" and meet at the top like a roof.” After mating, females lay their eggs in narrow young twigs slicing into the wood and depositing up to 400 eggs in total for each female in 40 to 50 locations each. It is the egg laying that does most of the damage associated with periodical cicadas. Cicada eggs remain in the twigs for six to ten weeks before hatching. The nymphs do not feed on the twigs and all but the youngest trees will recover.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Occoquan River Crossing Project

Growth in data centers, residential housing and commercial building has increased demand for drinking water in Prince William County. To meet that demand, Prince William Service Authority and Virginia American Water in collaboration with Fairfax Water will build two new 42-inch, parallel water mains to deliver water from the Fairfax Water Frederick P. Griffith Jr. Water Treatment Plant located in Fairfax County near Lorton. The new water mains will cross under the Occoquan River inside a 400-foot long tunnel and connect to existing water mains on the Prince William County side of the river. In addition, a new water main will be installed to connect the Griffith Water Treatment Plant  to the 42-inch water mains at the Occoquan River. This and the necessary ancillary equipment- two water interconnections and a new drinking water pump at Fairfax Water’s Griffith Plant make up the Occoquan River Crossing Project. The project will cost $13,637,000 and will be funded 30% from the “Availability Fees” the fee charged for new connections and 70% from “User Rates” folded into the cost of water for all.

When completed the project will include construction of two 700-foot long 42-inch steel water mains inside a 400-foot long tunnel that runs under the Occoquan River, 2,400 feet of 36-inch water main for to the existing transmission main and a new finished water pump at Fairfax Water’s Griffith Water Treatment Plant. This project will increase transmission capacity and reliability between the Griffith Water Treatment Plant  and the Service Authority’s existing and future customers by eliminating a single point of failure due to an existing single pipe at the Griffith Plant that supplies eastern Prince William County.

from Fairfax Water Townhall

User Rates: The Prince William County Service Authority sets user rates to cover the projected costs of operating and maintaining the water and sewer system, as well as debt service, and capital costs, for repair and replacements of the existing water and sewer system that benefit customers. User rates are set to recover the costs budgeted in the Operating Fund and Replacement Fund. The Authority’s Board of Directors approves the user rates.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Infrastructure Plan Shortchanges Drinking Water

Last week the Biden Infrastructure Plan was released. The plan would allot $111 billion to drinking water, water pipes, waste water and sewer pipes and storm water. $45 billion would go to eliminating lead pipe laterals and $56 billion would go to modernizing drinking water, waste water and stormwater systems. That is woefully inadequate to restore and improve our water infrastructure.  Let's take a look at some of the drinking water system needs. 

Let’s start with lead because the Infrastructure Plan has a lead pipe line ite.. Lead in drinking water is a national problem. Flint Michigan was not an aberration nor was it the worst incidence of lead in drinking water supplies. The lead in drinking water is predominately coming from the pipes. Lead does not exist in in most groundwater, rivers and lakes. Instead, lead in drinking water is picked up from the pipes on its journey into a home. In older homes the water service lines delivering water from the water main in the street into each home were commonly made of lead. This practice began to fade by the 1950’s but was legal until 1988. 

There are about 75 million homes across the country built before 1980, meaning they’re most likely to contain some lead plumbing. It was estimated by the American Water Association that there are 6.5 million lead water distribution pipes still in service in the United States while the EPA estimates that number at around 10 million. Based on the experience in Lansing, Michigan that replace all 14,000 lead laterals in the city, that cost is about right to finally eliminate lead water distribution pipes from our water delivery system if the nation as a whole is as efficient as Lansing, Michigan was in their program. Unfortunately, that leaves almost nothing to the rest of the water delivery system and inadequate money to upgrade the water treatment systems of the nation. 

Our nation’s drinking water infrastructure system is made up of 2.2 million miles of underground pipes that deliver drinking water to millions of people. There is a water main break every two minutes and an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water is lost each day to leaks and water main breaks. This is water we can no longer afford to waste. There are 5,280 feet per mile and it costs between $100-$500 a foot to replace a water pipe and repair the road. Most of the nation’s largest water systems are old, very old. If only 5% of the water pipes were in need of replacement at this time, and the cost were $100 per foot that would be another $70 billion. Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure reviews and evaluates the condition and performance of American infrastructure. According to their report, in 2019 alone the annual water infrastructure capital investment was $81 billion less than would have been necessary just to maintain the nation’s water systems. That does not include any upgrades and once the system was brought into repair, the annual expense to keep it that way would be around $21 billion.

 There are more than 148,000 active drinking water systems in the nation, although just 9% or 13,320 community water systems serve 78% of the population- over 257 million people. The rest of the nation is served by small water systems (about 8%) and private wells (about 14% of the population). The amount of money allotted for water infrastructure will not bring the nation’s water systems into repair or expand the treatment to meet the demands of emerging contaminants like PFAS that EPA is just beginning the process to develop a Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) maximum contaminant level (MCL). Our water treatment plants should be more robust as more and more contaminants begin to appear in our national water supplies. Our modern world is filled with chemicals, they exist in pharmaceuticals, household products, personal care products, plastics, pesticides, industrial chemicals, human and animal waste; they are in short, all around us. 

All the water on Earth has been here since the earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago (or so). There is no mechanism on Earth for creating or destroying large quantities of water, the water here continually cycles through the water cycle. Contaminants are building up in the waters of the earth. In their study of surface water used for drinking water supplies the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found a diverse group of contaminants in the source water used by our cities and towns. The concentrations were low, but the contaminants were ubiquitous; nonetheless, the most commonly detected contaminants in source water were generally detected in finished drinking water at about the same frequency and concentration- Our current water treatment is not removing these chemicals. Our drinking water treatment systems do not remove these trace contaminants and we need to change that.

According to EPA's 6th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment released in 2015  $472.6 billion is needed to maintain and improve the nation’s drinking water infrastructure through 2035.

Most water system needs are not directly related to violations of, or compliance with, SDWA regulations. Most needs, such as the replacement or rehabilitation of leaking water mains, are ongoing investments that systems must make to continue delivering safe drinking water to their customers.

EPA’s assessment shows that improvements are primarily needed in:

  •     Distribution and transmission: $312.6 billion to replace or refurbish aging or deteriorating pipelines this excludes lead pipes.
  •   · Treatment: $83 billion to construct, expand or rehabilitate infrastructure to reduce contamination only to meet current standards not improve them.
  •        Storage: $47.6 billion to construct, rehabilitate or cover water storage reservoirs to meet forecast demand without accounting for changes in climate.
  •          Source: $21.8 billion to construct or rehabilitate intake structures, wells and spring collectors

That is just the needs for the nation's drinking water  without even looking at the needs of waste water and storm water systems. The Biden Infrastructure Plan allocates  only $56 billion to modernizing drinking water, waste water and stormwater systems.