Monday, November 12, 2007

Water, Water, Everywhere...and Nary a Drop To Drink

So, while I was pregnant with CBoy, the Post reported that male fish in the Potomac were starting to bear eggs. Sigh. This after the lead scare during EGirl's babyhood, and echoes in 2004 of the ecoli/coliform bacteria warnings in the early 90s that made me start boiling and then buying water in the first place.

I know that the environmentally friendly thing to do is to embrace tap water, as most of it is safe to drink, but I think the movement to skip bottled water (did you know that only 23% of those horrid little plastic bottles are recycled?!) may very well stagnate in our nation's capitol if the Potomac's water quality continues to go downhill. After all, bottled vs. tap in DC happens to be a faceoff between questionable quality and absurdity. Why, just this very morning, the Washington Post noted that female fish are starting to become "intersex," too, because of pollution in the Potomac. We'd used a variety of filters over the years but opted to buy bottled water in response to lead scares and to have water delivered as a response to hormone disruption press.

Another thing that fueled a change in the sourcing of my (for those who know me, prodigious) water consumption? Seltzer is not regulated like other drinking water bz it is considered a food by the FDA! So as I have long thought, Lord knows where the water in that seltzer comes from. (see the substance of a 1999 NRDC letter to the FDA).

The recent plastics press about Bisphenol-A leaching made me finally get off my duff and get rid of the plastic bottles. I had to solve the conundrum of getting clean water delivered in giant, 5-gallon #7 bottles that leach endocrine disruptors into said water. Our family is now getting water delivered from Arkansas, believe it or not (I know, I know, where *would* there be more hormone runoff than in a poultry state?!), extensively tested water sourced from a natural spring inside 600+ acres of protected land and delivered in glass bottles. Glass 5-gallon bottles that are heavy enough to make for some quality hoisting noises and expensive enough to provoke some quality sputtering noises at bill-paying time. I shudder to think about the environmental impact of shipping our water from Arkansas to DC but when I emailed our fabulous new mayor about my concerns (hormone disruption up at the tippy top with some gratuitous comments about the possibility of organic school lunch offerings a la Berkeley's affiliation with Alice Waters) his staff sent me back a chipper little snippet saying he'd be working on making healthy school lunches for *all* kids in the District. Sigh...

Next up on the agenda is to get a whole house water filter. If you own your own home, I say go for it. If you want to start thinking about drinking water issues in general, NRDC did a tap water study in 2003 called What's On Tap? that's a great place to start. Consumer Reports has a 2007 report on water filters that's helpful, too.

But what I really need to do is just drink more wine (organic wine from the Prestons should do nicely!)


sher said...

yes. more wine. please!! :)

i freak out whenever new reports come out about the potomac (not only do i drink it, but i live a stone's throw away from it.) admittedly, though, i grew up in NJ; and under my house for most of my life was a pipeline where a chemical company (now taken over by CIBA-GEIGY) literally sent hazardous toxic biproducts under my neighbrohood to the atlantic ocean.

we wonder whether the pipes leaked. every house in my neighborhood has at least one cancer story; i wonder whether my oldest brother and i have immune system issues because of it as well. (my middle brother mostly consumed soda. he's overweight, but man, i bet his immune system rocks.)

yep. wine is looking better and better.

MamaBird said...

Wow, your NJ heritage reminds me of a time when I was little and convinced my dad to go harvest Jerusalem artichokes near our house in Boston suburbia right by a pond befouled by golf course fertilizer/pesticide runoff into an algae sludgefest...he tells me now that he just adopted a willing suspension of disbelief stance lalalalala and figured eating a few wouldn't kill us (but swimming in that pond did kill a couple of our dogs). Love that Coke beat your water...maybe I should just stock up on Fanta Grape?

MamaBird said...

Speaking of life coming full circle, my high school friend Jill emailed me after I ran my water post to tell me that her mom still credits me with converting her to her Brita pitcher -- apparently at 15 I wouldn't come over to their house to hang out without my filter in hand (BYOW!).