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EPA ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN FURTHER PROTECTS DRINKING WATER

Release Date: 05/30/2001
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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Communications, Education
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Environmental News


FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2001

EPA ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN FURTHER PROTECTS DRINKING WATER

Robin Woods 202-564-7841 / woods.robin@epa.gov


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman has approved a final rule that will provide an estimated 35 million Americans with cleaner, safer drinking water from more than 4,600 drinking water systems.
“I am taking steps to better protect America’s drinking water from microbial contaminants, such as Cryptosporidium,” said Whitman. “The Bush Administration continues to provide Americans with the safest drinking water in the world.”

Drinking water plants that filter water before sending it to their consumers must periodically clean their filters to remove the particulates that have been captured over time. Water is pumped backwards through the filter to remove these particulates through a process known as “filter backwashing.” The resultant filter backwash water may contain significant levels of microbes such as Cryptosporidium, the spore-like substance that has caused 12 waterborne disease outbreaks since l984, including a major outbreak in Milwaukee in l993 that sickened 400,000 people and resulted in more than 50 deaths.

Many systems recycle spent filter backwash water back into their treatment plants. This recycling, when performed improperly, may increase the risk of waterborne pathogens entering treated water. Recycle practices have been identified as possible causes for three of the more recent Cryptosporidium outbreaks. The final rule establishes requirements to ensure that filter backwash recycle practices do not compromise the ability of a treatment plant to provide safe drinking water.

Additional information on the “Filter Backwash Recycling Rule,” is available on EPA’s Office of Water Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/ow , under “What’s New.” The final rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register as early as next week.

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