HI water quality report shows no violations
HOLIDAY ISLAND -- There are no violations of limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency for contaminants in the 2013 Holiday Island drinking water quality report. But radium levels are up significantly over last year.
The report, released recently by the Arkansas Department of Health, covers the period of Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013. and lists levels for microbiological, radioactive, synthetic organic, lead and copper, disinfectants and byproducts of disinfection contaminants.
The report shows one positive sample of total coliform bacteria in August of last year. The EPA's allowable level is one positive sample per month.
Radioactive contaminants were much higher than in 2012, the report showed, especially for Well #2, which has consistently shown high radium levels over the years. However, Well #2 is not in service and was only brought back online, blended with Well #4, for a couple months in the spring of last year, while Well #5 was being repaired.
The state allows 15 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of alpha emitters, and for Well #2, the average was 9.5 last year, as opposed to 5.8 in 2012, although it was lower than in 2011, when it averaged 10.45. Wells #4 and 5 had higher alpha emitters last year than in both 2012 and 2011. Well #4 had an average of 5.85 pCi/L, compared to 4.43 in 2012 and 4.5 in 2011. Well #5 had an average of 6.73, compared to 5.3 in 2012 and 6.58 in 2011.
Combined radium, which the state has set at a limit of 5 pCi/L, was 4.23 for Well #2, as opposed to .95 in 2012, but slightly lower than in 2011, when it was 4.25.
Combined radium for both Wells #4 and 5 remained about the same for all three years, at around 1.3 pCi/L.
No one knows exactly what causes such divergent radioactive readings, which can vary depending the time of year. Readings are taken quarterly.
Lance Jones, Chief Engineer of the Arkansas Department of Health Engineering Section, said last year, "A high level of radium in a particular well in one quarter does not mean a high level in another quarter, and a high level in one well does not mean a high level in another well during the same quarter."
In addition to radiological testing, wells are tested for synthetic organic contaminants, lead and copper and regulated disinfectants.
In 2013, there were no violations at Holiday Island's wells for synthetic organics, although Well #4 showed a highest level of 2.48 ppb (parts per billion) of Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. The allowed level is 6 ppb.
There was also no lead or copper contamination.
Disinfectants, such as chlorine, tested below the allowable level of 4 ppm (parts per million), with an average of .50 ppm. Disinfection by-products, haloacetic acids and trihalomethanes, had no detectable levels.
The Health Department also tests for 61 regulated and unregulated herbicide and pesticide components and other chemicals for two or more consecutive quarters every three years. In 2013, ADH tested Well #2 in April last year and Well #4 in April, July and October and in February 2014.
There were no violations on anything tested. The highest reading of an herbicide was 9 ppb on a product called Endothall, which the Environmental Protection Agency has set at a maximum level of 100 ppb.
The other highest reading is 2.5 ppb for glyphosate, the weed-killing chemical used in Roundup and other products. Last year the EPA raised the allowable limits of glyphosate in drinking water to 700 ppb, a move which outraged many environmentalists and concerned healthcare professionals.
The effects of glyphosate on health, particularly the digestive system, and possibly its role in multiple chronic conditions, even at concentrations as small as 1 ppb, continue to be controversial.
In May, representatives of several organizations, including Moms Across America and the Organic Consumers Association, met with an EPA panel to review, discuss and present scientific evidence to support concerns about glyphosate's health effects. In June, the EPA issued a letter to MAA, calling into question the methods used to sample and test for glyphosate toxicity in the evidence presented and the interpretation of data on the increased use of glyphosate over many years as showing a direct correlation to rising rates of disease.