Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – June 21st, 2002

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

June 21, 2002

Homeland Drinking Water Security Update

On June 12, President Bush signed into law a bill that requires drinking water systems to conduct vulnerability assessments for potential security threats. Completed assessments are to be filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but are exempt from disclosure under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Within six months of filing, water systems must also file emergency response plans. Also in Washington, the Senate recently passed a $31.6 billion supplemental spending bill that includes additional funds for EPA to assess vulnerabilities at drinking water facilities. The EPA announced it will begin awarding grants to approximately 400 water utilities nationwide serving over 100,000 customers, and will support efforts to analyze security procedures, discover vulnerabilities within their systems, create emergency response plans and design security improvements. Each grant will be up to $115,000.

For more information, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/epahome/headline_060702.htm

UN Report Highlights Water Issues

More than one billion people in the developing world still have no access to safe drinking water, and 2.4 billion lack adequate sanitation, according to a recent report from the United Nations Environment Programme. According to the report, this situation is responsible for four billion cases of diarrhea and 2.2 million deaths every year. The organization’s third Global Environmental Outlook examines the environmental impacts in the past 30 years, and what can be expected in the coming 30 years. It is designed to set the framework for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg later this year, where global access to clean water is expected to be a key issue.

For more information, please visit: http://www.unep.org/GEO/press.htm

EPA To Issue Draft Guidance on Bacteria in Recreational Water

Earlier this month, the EPA announced its intention to publish Implementation Guidance for Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Bacteria. When final, the EPA expects this document will help protect recreational waters and beaches by providing state and territory water quality programs with guidance on how to adopt and implement bacteriological water quality criteria. The document will include information to help water quality programs transition from use of total coliform and fecal coliform counts to E. coli and enterococci as indicators of unhealthy levels of bacteria. The EPA will consider any comments received by August 2, 2002, with an expectation to publish the final document by December 2002.

To read the current draft guidance issued by the EPA, visit: http://www.epa.gov/ost/standards/bacteria/bacteria.pdf ( PDF)

For additional background information, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/standards/bacteria/bacteriafs.pdf ( PDF)

Malaria on the Rise Among U.S. Travelers

Recent reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrate a 52% rise in cases of malaria among U.S. travelers between 1994 and 1999, according to The Wall Street Journal (6/13/02). CDC experts believe the statistic reflects only a third of actual cases, and analysts feel the reason is due to an increased number of U.S. citizens traveling abroad for school and vacation. While travelers are urged to take preventative malaria medications, many opt not to take the drugs, or choose a brand that may not be effective in certain regions. Malaria is contracted through bites from mosquitoes infected with a parasite, which travels to the liver and attacks red blood cells. Symptoms are flu-like and include fever, vomiting, chills and headaches. In addition to kidney and respiratory failure, if untreated, the parasites can attack blood vessels in the brain, resulting in convulsions, coma and death. Approximately one million people die from the disease each year. But experts say that malaria medications can cut the risk of infection by about 90%. According to the CDC, large areas of Central and South America, Hispaniola, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania are considered malaria-risk areas.

For more information, please visit:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/malaria/default.htm

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