U.S. Water News Online
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Refusing to go down for the count after
a one-two punch
of reports claiming widespread pesticide contamination of drinking water,
officials in at least two Midwest states are working to spread a more
positive word that water supplies are safe and are well within federal
The campaign to reinforce public confidence in drinking water
after the release of a report "Tap Water Blues: Herbicides in Drinking Water"
by the Environmental Working Group. The report, which was carried by the
national media, generally stated that drinking water in the Midwest farming
states is laced with high levels of agricultural chemicals.
According to Stew Thornley, a health educator in the Drinking
Protection Section of the Minnesota Department of Health, the "Tap Water
Blues" report was the second jab in a one-two punch delivered to the
credibility of drinking water in the Farm Belt. A year ago, noted Thornley,
the first hit came at the hands of NBC, which aired a three-part "Dateline"
series that challenged the nation's drinking water quality.
"We are pleased with the overall results of our ongoing campaign
communicate good news," he said. Instead of going on the defensive, noted
Thornley, his department worked with water utilities in Minnesota to
establish better relations with the local media, and set up news conferences
to announce results of monitoring data that substantiate the safety of
drinking water supplies.
In Iowa, where a group called the Iowa Citizen Action Network has
advertising campaign cautioning the public that Des Moines tapwater
"contained four different pesticides and byproducts," officials are spreading
the word that the water is safe nevertheless. "Pesticides are a reality that
we have to deal with" in Iowa, said George Hallberg of the Iowa Hygienic
Laboratory. The quality of Iowa drinking water generally ranks above supplies
in other Midwest states, Hallberg pointed out, noting that the Des Moines
Water Works "is working very hard to improve the quality and safety of the
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