Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – December 7th, 2001

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs
December 7, 2001

Water Utilities Increase Security and Training

The EPA has begun providing vulnerability training for personnel at water utilities, speeding up work that was already in progress to enhance the security at water utilities. “We are doing everything we can to put in place the maximum amount of security measures that will ensure that people can be comfortable about their water systems,” EPA administrator Christine Whitman told BNA’s Daily Environment Report. The Senate also approved two bills that would provide the EPA with $25 million in immediate funding and $72 million in long-term funding for measures to protect U.S. water systems from terrorist attacks. Both measures allow the EPA to allocate the funding among drinking water and wastewater projects.

To learn more, visit http://www.epa.gov/safewater/security/secfs.html

Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule Progressing

The public comment period on the EPA’s draft of the Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule (DBPR) ended on November 30th. Prompted by 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water, the Stage 2 rule seeks to effectively lower exposure to disinfection byproducts while still protecting the public from bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing organisms in water. From March 1999 through September 2000, a Federal Advisory Committee consisting of representatives of the EPA, chemical and equipment manufacturers, public interest groups, public health officials, drinking water suppliers and others met to determine a sound DBPR policy. These efforts resulted in the signing of an Agreement in Principle in September 2000. The EPA specifically requested comment from interested parties on whether the pre-proposal draft of the Stage 2 rule reflects the Advisory Committee recommendations contained in the Agreement in Principle. The EPA is expected to promulgate the final rule in 2002, with compliance to be phased-in over the next ten years.

For more information on the rule, visit http://www.epa.gov/safewater/mdbp/st2dis.html.

Lower Arsenic Standard Signed into Law

Last week, President Bush signed into law a $112.7 billion appropriations bill to fund several federal agencies, including the EPA, for the 2002 fiscal year. Among the provisions in this measure is the requirement to lower the arsenic standard in drinking water from 50 to 10 parts per billion. EPA Administrator Christine Whitman stated that water systems must be in compliance by 2006.

More information on arsenic levels can be found at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/arsenic.html

Nigerian Battles Cholera Outbreaks

A cholera outbreak in the Nigerian state of Kano has claimed the lives of more than 500 people in recent weeks, with additional deaths expected. Local hospitals are reportedly inundated with thousands of infected patients. The World Health Organization and UNICEF are providing local authorities with medical supplies and other critical items. In the last five years, Kano has faced a several epidemics linked to poor sanitation, lack of hygiene education and often polluted drinking water.

For updates on the cholera outbreak in Kano, visit http://www.unfoundation.org/unwire/2001/11/27/current.asp

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