Do you know what you’re drinking?

March 14th, 2017 by Ken

Most of us who live in Thurston County get our drinking water from wells.   We pump groundwater into our water system and dispense it to our homes.   Yet most people, including our public officials, aren’t really certain just what chemicals are in our water supply.

To find out what is in our groundwater, LOTT has undertaken a five year, $5 million dollar study of our water supply.    LOTT is the perfect agency to do the study because it treats waste water, then pumps it back into our underground aquifers.  Officials wanted to know if pumping waste water into the ground would have an unknown impact on drinking water.

The first phase of a three part phase has been completed.   It tested for 127 different chemical compounds.   Using test sites, near its two reclaimed water facilities in Lacey and Olympia – – and the Tumwater aquifer as a controlled test site, which has no reclaimed water plant but only septic systems, LOTT has come up with some early results.

Some 85 percent of the tested chemicals are removed  before  the waste water gets into the undergound aquifers.  At first glance it doesn’t appear that the reclaimed water sites had more chemicals than the Tumwater site, which is comprised mainly of septic systems.

But, some chemical compounds have been found all over the tested areas. The most common is  1,4 Dioxane, a chemical used in X rays.  It’s the stuff that’s injected in the body so the X rays show better.   The second most common chemical is Acesulfame-K used in artificial sweetners.   A diabetic drug Atenolol is the third most common chemical in our groundwater.

There are several other drugs found all around the test site, both near the reclaimed water facilities and in the control group which consists mainly of septic systems.

Now that LOTT knows what chemicals are removed and which chemicals remain, it will begin the second phase of the study.  That will be to determine how the underground water moves and how the chemicals in the water move with it.   Other studies have been done around the country but almost always in a dry climate.   This series of tests will determine how our water movement, here in this wet climate, impacts where the chemicals are found.

The third study will determine just  how dangerous those chemicals remaining in the ground water are, and what can be done to eliminate all of them.

LOTT is about halfway through the study and has spent about 25 percent of its budgeted $5 million dollars.

Posted in Government, Informational, The Real News

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