The latest annual report from the Department of Natural Resources shows most Iowans can draw water from their tap without concern. Diane Moles compiled the info from two-thousand- 60 public water supplies. She says, “We’re pleased to report that the public water supplies for the most part are quite safe in our state. We did not have any water-borne disease outbreaks or deaths reported to anyone from Iowa public water systems in 2004.” Moles says the biggest problem contaminants are coliform bacteria and nitrates. She says over 88 percent of the population served by Iowa’s public water systems received water that was in compliance with all health-based standards. She says the violation rates remained fairly static, up a little bit from the previous year. She says some of the violations relate to weather patterns as violations are up during a wet year, versus a dry year when there are fewer violations. Moles says while they don’t have specific tests to prove it, they believe more contaminants are washed into water supplies in those wet years. She says, “That does appear to be what’s happening here.” She says you get more things moving into the ground water and Iowa is primarily a state that draws from groundwater sources like wells, although some major metropolitan areas draw from surface waters such as lakes and rivers. Moles says the lack of disease outbreaks and deaths shows the program of water testing and follow-up is working. She says if a system has a problem, they’re required to do a public notice to let consumers know what precautions to take. One thing the state doesn’t keep track of is the total cost to treat water in Iowa to make it safe to consume. She says the cost varies quite a bit between different systems as some take the water straight from a well without much treatment, while others pull the water out of a river and have sophisticated treatment systems. Moles says one thing she does know is the cost to turn on the tap for a drink of H-2-O is pennies compared to dollars that people spend to buy bottled water. You can see the entire water report by surfing to the D-N-R website at www.iowadnr.com.
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