Agua es Vida Action Team or AVAT
Our Drinking Water:
Since December 2008, Albuquerque's tap water has come from both the Rio Grande, through the San Juan Chama Drinking Water Project and the aquifer. AVAT believes the public has the right to know the details of what's in our tap water and wants an independent review, including an environmental health expert to provide scientific oversight, create more accountability, transparency and to protect our health and safety.
The Precautionary Principle must be used when it comes to our collective health and safety. The Precautionary Principle is a moral principle stating that if an action potentially harms the public or the environment, the burden of procuring proof of safety falls on those who advocate the action.
Standards: The Safe Drinking Water Act standards
These standards are so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose serious health risks and still be legal. Over 99% of the industrial chemicals in the United States are unregulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. For example, there are no current national standards for pharmaceuticals in drinking water, though we know from Associated Press research that these pharmaceuticals are present is almost every drinking water system tested. Research suggests that these chemicals can pose health risks to humans.
The Water Authority goes by EPA standards when considering whether our drinking water is safe. There is evidence that EPA standards for long-lived alpha-emitting radionuclides, such as Plutonium, in drinking water are based on outdated science and that the current standards are not protective. Albuquerque is located downstream from Los Alamos National Lab and the fact is that there are radioactive chemicals in the Rio Grande and in Albuquerque's tap water. The existing gross alpha MCL (maximum contamination level) is no longer protective and should be set at a more stringent level of 0.15 for the alpha emitting long-lived transuranic radionuclides like Plutonium 239. The standard for gross alpha is currently 100 times too lax. This is based on updated EPA research and The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. (See ieer.org website reports "Bad to the Bone" and "Healthy from the Start" for more information). Colorado and California have more protective surface water standards than New Mexico for alpha emitting radionuclides such as Plutonium and also for Tritium. New Mexicans should be as protected as Coloradans and Californians.
The City of Albuquerque water standards must be more protective than the EPA national standards and the Safe Drinking Water Act standards because of emerging contaminants. Those standards were set many years ago, are outdated and inadequate.
Current, Detailed Water Quality Data:
AVAT has requested that the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) put on their website current, detailed chemistry reports, with detection limits, and do more sensitive monitoring. The last water quality data on their website is up to 6 years old and lacks details, including detection limits.
Aquifer Recovery and Storage (ASR): The ABCWUA is proposing a "Large Scale ASR" project.
There are questions about aquifer recharging, both injection and infiltration. A cost benefit and engineering risk analysis should be performed regarding the possible damage to aquifer water quality as a result of the chemicals being used to disinfect river water as well as the chemicals already in the river water being used for aquifer recharge. We need public input to discuss alternatives to ASR and what other projects might be funded with this money, such as critical infrastructure repairs.
As in much of the world we are facing serious drought and water shortages. For example Australia requires almost all homes to have cisterns. We need effective urban watershed management, rain and gray-water harvesting to conserve our water. Millions of gallons of rainwater and storm water are wasted creating rivers on our streets, and then mostly evaporating. Pumping less water from the aquifer, planting trees, cisterns, curb cuts and intelligent watershed management could save, spread and sink water to naturally restore our aquifer. With these practices, we may not need to inject or infiltrate the aquifer with treated river water. We could also lower the gallons per capita per day (gpcd) use of water. We could also use our gray-water to water our landscape. We don't need to use 40-50% of our tap water to water our landscape
For further information contact: Agua es Vida Action Team (AVAT):
505-242-5511 website: aguaesvidaactionteam.net