Curbing Nutrient Pollution Puts Drinking Water First

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clean Water Action National Campaigns Director Lynn Thorp testified today before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy on issues related to “Cyanotoxins in Drinking Water”.  Cyanotoxins, the contaminant that forced the shutdown of the Toledo OH water system for several days in August of this year, are produced by Harmful Algal Blooms.

In her testimony, Thorp said “The most cost-effective way to prevent cyanotoxin contamination of drinking water sources is to reduce the nitrogen and phosphorus pollution that is also causing numerous other drinking water, environmental and economic impacts.” 

A group of cyanotoxins have been shown to present public health risk at levels currently found in some drinking water sources.  Several states and EPA have taken action to set drinking water thresholds and to consider regulation of these cyanotoxins.  Clean Water Action noted that these actions should continue.

Thorp noted, however, that “… action to address only cyanotoxins in drinking water is woefully inadequate and risks transferring the burden of pollution control to Public Water Systems and their customers.” She  advocated aggressive action at every level of government to address the nitrogen and phosphorus – or nutrient – pollution which contributes to growth of Harmful Algal Blooms which in turn produce cyanotoxins.

“Putting Drinking Water First means making decisions about upstream activities with a focus on potential drinking water impacts downstream,” Thorp testified.  “Curbing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution is the right choice for drinking water protection and is the “multi-benefit approach.”

The hearing on Cyanotoxins in Drinking Water also included testimony from the drinking water utility sector, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

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Clean Water Action is the nation’s largest grassroots group focused on water, energy and environmental health.  Clean Water Action’s nearly 1 million members participate in Clean Water Action’s programs for clean water, prevention of health-threatening pollution, and creation of environmentally-safe jobs and businesses.  Clean Water Action’s nonpartisan campaigns empower people to make democracy work.

Lynn Thorp
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