Unregulated chemicals from our wastewater are finding their way into our water supply. Our ability to detect and understand the effects of those contaminants is evolving faster than our ability to remove them from our water. We know contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, plastics and pesticides can harm people and aquatic wildlife, though it is unclear to what extent. As the science unfolds, we must have a clear understanding of what is in our water, how these contaminants are linked to health problems, and what we can do to reduce or eliminate these threats. Fortunately, solutions are starting to emerge.
Openlands and the Metropolitan Planning Council hosted a Sept. 15, 2011 roundtable to learn more about emerging contaminants and how to keep to keep them out of our water. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Dana Kolpin explored how contaminants detected in our region’s surface and groundwater have affected fish and other wildlife. Carole Braverman, a toxicologist from the U.S. EPA, examined whether these chemicals pose significant health risks to people. Laura Kammin from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant discussed innovative programs to reduce this contamination, such as drug take-back facilities. Debra Ness, of the Fox Metro Water Reclamation District, detailed the real-world successes and challenges of proactive and preventative water quality management.
Dana Kolpin, Research Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey
Carole Braverman, Toxicologist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Laura Kammin, Pollution Prevention Program Specialist, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
Debra Ness, Pretreatment Supervisor, Fox Metro Water Reclamation District