Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – April 2001

In the News…

April 13, 2001

Foot-and-Mouth Concerns Reach the U.S.

Foot-and-mouth disease continues to cripple both livestock and European economies. More than 300 new inspectors are being hired at U.S. international airports to strengthen existing efforts to prevent the disease from reaching U.S. land. Though foot-and-mouth disease is not harmful to humans, it is devastating to agriculture and farms. The United States, which has been free of this disease since 1929, has already banned livestock and raw meat imports from the European Union.

Heightened airport security and sanitation efforts are ongoing in the U.S. For instance, international passengers arriving in many southern U.S. international airports are being asked to dip their shoes in a chlorine solution disinfectant. Despite these added layers of protection, speculation of the disease reaching the U.S. has persisted. At press time, no confirmed case of the disease has been found in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently confirmed that foot-and-mouth was not found in a suspected incident in North Carolina. However, a popular Maine farm announced it would close its summer tours and exhibits due to the risks posed by high human traffic.

For more information, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/fmd/index.html

Debate Over the Arsenic Standard Continues

The Bush Administration has decided to withdraw and review the arsenic rule promulgated in the final days of the Clinton Administration that stipulated a new standard of 10 micrograms/L, a significant reduction from the existing 50 micrograms/L level. The action has prompted a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill. Leading Senate Democrats have indicated that securing the 10 micrograms/L standard and authorizing $750 million per year in grants to help small water systems comply with this and other drinking water standards is a top environmental priority. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has introduced legislation to reinstate the lower arsenic standard. In the House, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) and 160 co-sponsors introduced a similar bill to codify the 10 micrograms/L standard. Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has proposed an even stricter standard of 3 micrograms/L to be implemented by October 2006.

For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/safewater/arsenic.html

Restitution Ordered for Walkerton Residents

A Canadian superior court judge has ruled that every resident in Walkerton, Ontario receive $2,000 (CAD) restitution for last year’s E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that killed seven people and caused 2,300 others to become ill. The town of Walkerton, its utility commission and the local health department will reportedly pay $4 million in legal fees and $17 million of the $30 million settlement from the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the victims. The provincial government is paying the remainder of the settlement. Residents who suffered more extensive losses will be allowed to file additional claims individually.

For additional news reports, visit The Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com) or The Ottawa Citizen (http://www.ottawacitizen.com).

EPA Conducting Clean Water Needs Survey

In order to satisfy the requirements of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental agencies are collecting water quality data for the 2001 Needs Survey report to Congress. The four-year survey informs Congress of the monies needed to construct municipal wastewater treatment facilities, nonpoint source controls, and collection systems and to reduce combined sewer overflows. For the first time, the database allows for the continuous entry of data, providing states with detailed information on pollution needs within all national watersheds. The collection of data will end in June 2001.

For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/owm/uc.htm


In The News… is a bi-weekly, online service from the Water Quality & Health Council. The publication is updated every other Friday and can be viewed by logging onto www.waterandhealth.org. To receive the publication via e-mail, please go here and enter your e-mail address to join our mailing list.

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