America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a water warning for areas near Durango, Colorado spreading all the way to Mexico. Last week, the Animas River suffered a toxic spill from a nearby mine, resulting in a mustard-colored contamination. 3 million gallons of lead, cadmium, arsenic, copper, manganese, and iron spilled when federal EPA workers were moving earth trying to control rising water levels in Gold King Mine and prevent an incident such as this one.
“What wasn’t a problem in the past is becoming a problem now because of the increased use of mountain water,” says geology and alpine hydrology professor Mark Williams at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Mark has worked with the EPA in the past to mitigate polluted water from abandoned Colorado mines. Western states together contain 500,000 abandoned mine sites that have the potential to cause pollution issues such as this one.
But issue at hand remains how the water is going to affect the rest of the country and Mexico. The watershed that the Animas River flows into has already contaminated Colorado and Utah and will continue to flow down through the Navajo nation (some parts of Arizona and New Mexico) and Mexico. Farmers, industrial buildings, and the community surrounding the area of the spill have been warned not to use the water until it is deemed safe again. In the meantime, the EPA has sent out teams to clean the river thoroughly so that it can start to self-heal and bring wildlife back to the area. People living in areas affected by the spill can now file claims with the EPA.
Yahoo! News. Animas River Spill: How Colorado’s ‘Gold Medal’ Rivers Turned Mustard. http://news.yahoo.com/animas-river-spill-colorados-gold-medal-waters-turned-002900376.html
Fox News. EPA’s McCarthy: Contaminated Water From Colorado Mine Will Spread. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/08/11/epa-mccarthy-contamination-from-colorado-mine-spill-will-spread-cause-still/
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In 2009, U.S. consumers purchased 8.45 billion gallons of bottled water, 2.5 percent less than was consumed in 2008. Bottled water sales declined in both 2008 and 2009 as consumers cut back on unnecessary expenses during the economic recession and consumers became increasingly aware of the environmental concerns associated with the product.
Bottled water is expensive
Americans spent $10.6 billion on bottled water in 2009 and paid up to 1,000 times the cost of tap water. And almost half of all bottled water (48.7 percent) came from municipal tap water supplies in 2009. A growing share of bottled water is now coming from tap water.
Bottled water is bad for the environment
Bottled water wastes fossil fuels in production and transport. Bottled water production in the United States used the energy equivalent of 32 and 54 million barrels of oil to produce and transport plastic water bottles in 2007—enough to fuel about 1.5 million cars for a year. Rather than being recycled, about 75 percent of the empty plastic bottles end up in our landfills, lakes, streams and oceans, where they may never fully decompose.
Bottled water is not safer
Tap water in the United States is subject to more stringent federal safety regulations than bottled water. Federal, state, and local environmental agencies require rigorous testing of tap water safety and make test results available to the public. And despite the marketing claims of purity, independent testing of 10 different brands of bottled water conducted in 2008 found 38 contaminants.
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