Louisville's drinking water under scrutiny

Louisville, KY - By David Williams - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Before you turn on your faucet and take a drink of water, you may consider the results of the latest study from an environmental group that says Chromium-6 - a harmful chemical made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich - could be present in harmful amounts in Louisville's drinking water. But officials from Louisville Water Company insist the water is safe.

Hashim Alsabi, owner of Pita Delites, a Middle Eastern restaurant in the Highlands, uses hundreds of gallons of water a day.

"Water enters just about every facet of our operation," Alsabi said.

"From the making of coffee, tea, iced tea [to] the soft drink dispenser that mixes water with the syrup to the cooking process - everything that we do in the restaurant and any other restaurant really, water, water, water."

Alsabi was surprised to learn that the results of a recent study indicate Louisville's drinking water may have trace amounts of Chromium-6.

The study was conducted by Environmental Working Group, out of Washington, DC. According to the group's data, the chemical was present in tap water samples from 31 U.S. cities, including Louisville.

Louisville Water Company spokeswoman Kelley Dearing Smith says Louisville is well within the EPA's standards, and questioned the methods used when the Environmental Working Group took its samples.

"The sample that the Environmental Group took in Louisville was .14 parts per billion," Smith said. "This all came on the heels of California looking at a public health goal. of .06 parts per billion.

Smith continued: "This new study that came out by the Environmental Working Group looked specifically at Chromium-6. There are 2 parts of chromium, and the Louisville water company tests for 'Total Chromium' - Chromium-3, which is actually important for your body to have and Chromium-6, which is believed to be perhaps a cancer causing agent."

Smith says Louisville Water Company's total chromium content is safe. "Total chromium is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, so we're required to test for that annually. The EPA says for total Chromium, (including 3 and 6) the maximum contaminate level you can have is 100 parts per billion.

"Now, for the past 10 years here in Louisville, our averages have been below 10 parts per billion," Smith said. "So, in what we're regulated for, we are well below the national standard. But in terms of Chromium-6, we do not test for it individually right now. The EPA does not require us to test for it, and quite frankly, the technology is not advanced enough to where we can test for it in those minute levels."

Smith says there's no reason for people to be alarmed.

"Based on what we're regulated for, the Louisville water company does not believe customers should be overly concerned about this report," Smith said. "Your drinking water is safe."

"It is concerning but right now, I would probably have to dismiss it and go on as business as usual," Alsabi said.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson released the following statement on its website: "The EPA will issue guidance to all water systems in the country to help them develop monitoring and sampling programs specifically for Chromium-6."

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