By Virginia Zombek
(Wampsville, NY – April 2013) There is so much to know about our drinking water. Where does it come from and how does it get into our homes? How is it cleaned before we drink it? What can we do to protect it?
One way to protect our natural water sources is to be watchful of storm water run-off near our homes and businesses, especially this time of year. If rain and wastewater flows into the sanitation system drains, the water is treated at the treatment plant and pollutants are removed. But if the water flows to an area where it can spread out naturally, the oils, pesticides and pollutants mixed in with the water may find their way into our underground water supplies.
In Madison County, individual household wells make up about 40 percent of all the drinking water delivery systems. The upkeep of these wells is the responsibility of the individual owner. Private well owners should have their water checked annually for bacteria and coliform. Public water systems are monitored daily by local water operators with regulatory oversight provided by the Madison County Department of Health.
Over the next few weeks, there will be opportunities to learn more about protecting your drinking water sources.
* On April 27, there will be a “Safe Pill Take Back” event sponsored by the Madison County Department of Solid Waste held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Buyea Road landfill site in Lincoln. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products released into the water systems can wind up in wastewater and in fish. Flushing expired prescription drugs are harmful to the streams, rivers and lakes.
“Drinking Water Week” is May 5 through 11 this year and is sponsored by the American Water Works Association (drinktap.org). It is a time set aside to think about the critical role water plays in our daily lives.
Here are some examples of things to do to help protect your water quality.
1. Use cold water for drinking and preparing food.
2. Drain and flush your hot water heater annually.
3. Fix any leaky faucets.
4. Clean and disinfect sinks and drains regularly.
5. Drop off expired medications any business day at the Department of Motor Vehicles kiosk in Wampsville.
Make an appointment on your calendar today to accomplish one or more of these tasks.
Virginia Zombek is a public health educator specializing in environmental health issues with the Madison County Department of Health.