The purpose of this report is to propose a solution to the problem of reduced drinking water quality due to chemical pollution. Some bodies of water in the United States are becoming polluted from chemicals and restrictions are needed to protect drinking water quality.
THE BACKGROUND OF CHEMICAL USE AND WATER QUALITY
Drinking water quality was not a concern until the last century when the use of chemicals was greatly expanded. Chemicals are used to kill weeds, insects, and other pests. Chemicals are typically sprayed on an area and are designed not to harm the crop, grass, or other plants that you want to remain. This mass application procedure allows much-unutilized chemical to soak into the soil and eventually leach into the ground water. If applied right before a rain, the chemical can also be washed into rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. The first widespread problem with chemicals in the water was with the chemical DDT. Fish in rivers and lakes first picked up DDT. These infected fish where then eaten by eagles and hawks which as a result laid eggs that could not hatch. This caused a dramatic reduction of numbers in these populations and almost caused the extinction of the Bald Eagle, our national bird. In the 70?s and 80?s there was an explosion of new chemicals on the market that had not been tested for environmental problems. These chemicals are the basis of most management systems in agriculture today and they are also harming the water that we all need for survival.
THE NEED FOR INCREASED CONTROL OF CHEMICALS
Poor Water Quality is a Widespread Problem
The need for increased control of chemicals is apparent through nation wide water quality testing. In 1996 the EPA gathered water testing results from all 50 states and compiled them. Figure #1 (top of next page) shows how chemical use has affected what our nations waters can safely be used for. Many bodies of water now have restrictions on what they can be used for safely. In one of the more shocking categories, swimming is safe in only 63% of the water tested.
Use Acres Good
(partial support) Poor
(not supporting) Poor
support 14200153 55 14 25 6 <1
consumption 10896449 60 5 32 3 <1
(swimming) 15369354 63 12 21 4 <1
(boating) 8306354 62 13 23 2 <1
Drinking 8466958 81 10 7 1 0
Agriculture 4712268 84 5 10 ...