How Florida's Drinking Water is Easily Contaminated

Melbourne, Florida water tower in Satellite Beach, FL
Melbourne water working on a water issue
FLORIDA., May 1, 2020 – Is Florida's increasing population complicating water issues? Aquifers, which are vast rocks containing fresh water, provide 90% of Florida's drinking water. However, the state's unique soil layer, high water table, porous limestone, and abundant rainfall make aquifer water easily susceptible to contamination.

Usually, the drinking water in Florida is safe to consume unless it gets contaminated. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that polluted groundwater can infiltrate drinking water systems and create significant risks to public health, especially for children and young adults. Harmful substances from factories and microorganisms can easily enter the state's aquifer water.

When drinking water in a specific area becomes contaminated, the local government sends out “boil water notices,” where they instruct you to boil your drinking water for at least one minute before using it. Boiling kills most types of parasites, bacteria, and viruses but increases concentrations of other contaminants due to the evaporation of water. Providing clean water requires extensive infrastructure and government regulations.

Contaminated water can enter through pipe bursts when existing mains are repaired or replaced, potentially introducing contaminated soil or debris into the system. The possibility of contaminants entering the drinking water system should concern Brevard County residents. Scientists found chemical waste from the space industry and military bases in lagoon wildlife. Chemicals include TCE, PCBs, DDT, and most recently emerging contaminants known as per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Once released into the environment, PFAS doesn’t break down, which is why they are called “forever chemicals.” They build up in the blood and organs, which may cause potential long-term risks to human health and the environment. Biologists found these fluorinated chemicals in the blood and tissues of wildlife near the Kennedy Space Center in 2018. Many of the highest detections of PFAS in water were found at military bases, and in 2018 a Department of Defense report showed that Patrick Air Force Base is the third most PFAS-contaminated base in the United States. They found levels 57,000 times greater than the health advisory limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency. These forever chemicals are in groundwater throughout Brevard County.

The nonprofit organization, Fight for Zero, has advocated for comprehensive testing, increased cleanup efforts, medical examination, wildlife studies, and filtration since the beginning of 2018. To ensure safe drinking water for those living on and around these military bases, a government-funded program is being proposed to provide a point-of-entry filtration system to every Satellite Beach, Patrick Air Force Base, and Cocoa Beach home.

When people turn on their faucets to pour a glass of water, they expect that their water is safe to drink. Aging, stressed, or poorly maintained water infrastructure can cause the quality of piped drinking water to deteriorate below standard levels and pose serious health risks. Rapid population growth and inadequate pollution regulations are complicating our water quality issues. The more we recognize and invest in these issues, the more we can protect public health.

As seen in The Beachside Resident

Fight for Zero

Our team brings passion and drive to take on environmental health challenges. Our mission is to inform, educate, share resources, and inspire action to protect natural resources.

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