Monday, May 16, 2011

PAWC Releases Tests Proving Water is Safe

The Pennsylvania American Water Company's drinking water is safe.  That is the conclusion from PAWC that released today its extensive testing of water in the Pittsburgh area, including for radionuclides.  The testing was done in response to the NY Times February 27th article.

See the Pennsylvania American Water statement at  There were no detecable levels found for all radiological contaminants tested.  Six were tested.  None.

There were no detecable levels for a long string of VOCs that were also tested.  None.

The test results showed levels within compliance standards for 32 other substances tested like arsenic, barium, mercury, and so on.

This extraordinary battery of testing is in addition to PAWC's normal, routine stringent testing for more than 90 substances.

I am sure the NY Times will put these test results above its fold tomorrow.


  1. Any idea on what a raw water intake is?

  2. Having had the opportunity to re-read the NYT article is seems this study does indeed put a bit of a crimp in their reporting.

    The author of the NYT article writes, "In other words, there is no way of guaranteeing that the drinking water taken in by all these plants is safe."
    It turns out this is not exactly true, as PAWC has taken the time and spent the money to prove that water taken in by these stations is safe and more than likely delicious.

    Thanks for the update!

  3. When were these tests done, and was it during an extremely high water flow due to the intense rains? Wouldn't extraordinary water flow skew the tests? I can speak for the Allegheny, it's at an all time high and there are often abnormally high flow rates. And how do we, the people, know the testing wasn't done in cooperation with the plants releasing the contaminants upstream? It could have been a highly choreographed, synchronized test done during an abnormally high flow rate of the rivers. It could mean nothing! WE want good science! Do the testing during drought conditions and see if you get the same results!

  4. Dear Anonymous:

    Your direct insinuation that the tests are fraudulent is conspiracy madness ("And how do we, the people, know the testing wasn't done in cooperation with the plants releasing the contaminants upstream? It could have been highly choreographed, synchronized test done during an abnormally high flow rate of the rivers." And according to birther loons President Obama faked all his documents too. Deliberately mistating or misreporting drinking water tests can be a criminal offense. It did not happen here.

    PAWC does regular monitoring and testing of over 90 substances in all flow conditions.

    The River Action Information Network does daily testing for TDS on the Mon and other rivers and posts the results in real time on the web. See When I was Secretary, DEP gave grant support to RAIN so that it could begin monitoring water for TDS and then grow its network.

    Tap water is exhaustively tested all the time. Properly reporting test results is subject to criminal penalties. And it should be.

  5. Mr Hanger, Anonymous again. I can speak for the Allegheny River flows, as I am very familiar with it. All this year, since last fall, the river has experienced abnormally high flows. And I'll point out that I'd bet that when the river finally drops to low levels or summer flow rates, that the tests will be different.

    And why aren't "they" or the DEP measuring the outflow of these plants? Why not measure exactly what is coming out of the outflow pipe? Don't they have to meet "drinking water standards"? Shouldn't they be looking at the outflow of the plants BEFORE they are diluted by flood waters to measure their chemical make up or test for radioactive materials?

    Why not go directly to the source, and not measure miles downstream during abnormally high flow rates?

    And do you understand why the public has a distrust for what "the industry" and all their "apologists" do and say?

    We have been mislead and lied to before!

    I, and others have every right to be suspicious of this "testing", and anything the DEP does until they prove themselves to be unbiased.

    My challenge to the testers: Go measure the OUTFLOW of some of these plants and see if you come up with the same results!

    And I am offended by you mentioning the "birthers". The quality of our water should be measurable and scientific, and has nothing to do with who believes where our president was born.

  6. First, the drinking water itself is the single most important thing to test. And these tests show it to be safe. And moreover testing is done continually for 90 substances.

    Second, your original post without any basis suggested a conspiracy by PAWC to falsify test results. That is irresponsible.

    Third, testing in stream is also important and has been done by DEP, is done daily by RAIN on the Mon for TDS. All these tests show the water to be safe.

    Fourth, testing at the pipe depends on the permit and conditions. Gas drillers were singled out in the August 2010 new TDS rule and alone are required to meet at the pipe discharge limits if the discharge is from an expanded plant or new plant.
    The new rule also has a watershed standard to keep TDS levels from all sources below the Safe drinking water levels.

    Fifth, on May 19th it will be interesting to see if there is any plants discharging any frack fluids not treated for TDS. It could be the case that Pennsylvania will soon have less TDS going into streams than prior to the first Marcellus well being drilled.