Drinking Water Test Reveals Few Pesticide Problems

Jan. 26, 2000
Inspections of water systems serving 10,000 Washington state farm workers and their families shows the drinking water is safe.

Inspections of water systems serving 10,000 Washington state farm workers and their families in 1999 revealed few instances of pesticide contamination, according to a report released by the state Department of Health.

Last summer and fall, department staff inspected and tested the water supplied by 150 public water systems serving 189 temporary farm worker facilities statewide.

Only two water samples, (1 percent) of the total exceeded drinking water standards for pesticides.

Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said last year's testing and inspections was the most extensive effort ever for a single category of water systems.

"Ensuring the availability of safe, reliable drinking water is a critical part of improving conditions for the states' temporary farm workers and their families," said Selecky.

The effort was launched last year in response to a request last year by Gov. Gary Locke, who asked the department to evaluate whether current testing requirements -- particularly for pesticides -- are adequate to protect the health of temporary farm workers.

While the testing discovered few instances of pesticide contamination, it was revealed that more than half of the systems inspected require some improvement to protect public health.

"The most common problems we found during the inspections were poorly constructed old wells that were in bad locations in the first place, and inadequately maintained, deteriorating drinking water facilities," Selecky said.

"These conditions can allow bacteria and other contaminants to reach drinking water."

The department has initiated enforcement effort to make sure all problems are corrected before facilities are licensed this year.

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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