Ideological Purity Over Water Purity Getting Some In Wisconsin Sick

Friday, June 1, 2012

Regulation of drinking water quality, Wisconsin? With some old-timey "continuous disinfection" procedure? Who needs it?

In February, 2011 I wrote:
Continuous disinfection of drinking water?

Are there limits to the state's new radical agenda?

Ah - - who needs that Nanny state crap, say ultra-pro-business-come-what-may GOP legislators who are gearing up to stop the state from enforcing rules to keep viruses and other contaminants out of Wisconsin municipal water systems.

Yeah, that'll recruit new industry to Wisconsin. I can see the new Welcome To Wisconsin signs now:

Open For Business: Bring Your Own Medicine Bag. 
So is there any wonder that some communities deciding to live without disinfecting their drinking water - - a deregulation perk offered by the GOP legislature last year - - are seeing the appearance of water-borne viruses in their supplies?  Kids as young as five with norovirus?

Thanks, mom and dad. Your ideological purity trumped the purity of our tapwater.

A new study of 14 Wisconsin communities that do not disinfect their water revealed the presence of human viruses in drinking water in nearly one-quarter of all samples taken.

The results suggest that people in municipalities that don't treat their water systems may be exposed to waterborne viruses and potential health risks, the study concluded.

The authors calculated that water that isn't disinfected was responsible for 6% to 22% of gastrointestinal illnesses reported during the study period.

At one time during the study, when norovirus was commonly found in tap water, the researchers attributed up to 63% of the cause of illness to dirty drinking water in children younger than 5.

The likely virus source was leaking wastewater sewers, the study concluded. The viruses from human waste traveled through the soil and flowed into groundwater, which is the source of drinking water for the communities. In some cases viruses in the soil could have flowed into cracked water pipes of homes.

The work was conducted by researchers at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation and the University of California, Davis. It was published Friday in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and is one of the first to tie viruses in public water supplies to effects on human health.

The results of the study come in the wake of action a year ago in the state Legislature when lawmakers rejected regulations by the Department of Natural Resources that would have required all Wisconsin communities to disinfect their drinking systems.

The DNR, under the administration of former Gov. Jim Doyle, used the work of the study's lead author Mark A. Borchardt to advance the regulations. Borchardt is a microbiologist who works for the U.S. Agricultural Research Service in Marshfield.

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