Do you know what terrorists are doing in the heat of the summer? Answer: Looking for ways they can poison your drinking water supplies and systems. No joke. Let me explain.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, there are over 151,000 public water systems in the United States.
For decades, experts have warned that those water systems are too susceptible and vulnerable to chemical and terrorist attacks. Most of those warnings have gone unheeded, underfunded and pushed aside for other “pressing issues.” And even our best solutions, like at airports during the pre-9/11 era, might be tragically too little too late.
Peter Beering, former Indianapolis Water Company deputy general counsel and Terrorism Preparedness Coordinator, warned as far back as 2003: Water is the “quintessential target.”
NBC News explained: “It’s been a strategic objective in armed conflict throughout history. The Nazis dumped raw sewage into reservoirs; dead animals were tossed into wells in Kosovo. And the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover warned of the potential for attacks on the nation’s water supply prior to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.”
James Atkinson, a counter-terrorism consultant with the Gloucester, Massachusetts-based Granite Island Group, explained that: “a single terrorist, or even a small group of terrorists could quite easily cripple an entire city by simply destroying equipment at the reservoir end of the pipeline, and even by poisoning the reservoir with concentrated toxins right where the water enters the pipeline.”
How prone is your water system to chemical attacks? Answer: Very prone.
The truth is, we not only have to be concerned about terrorist chemical attacks but also homegrown contamination throughout our 151,000 public water systems.
In 1974, Congress enacted The Safe Drinking Water Act, which was supposed to regulate the infiltration of 100 different contaminants, such as lead and arsenic, in our water systems. However, lack of accountability and enforcement, coupled with the worsening of water infrastructure, has only increased water problems and dangers.
All one has to mention today is the city of Flint to understand the deterioration of our water systems and contamination of our drinking water among U.S. cities.
Erik Olson, who directs the Natural Resources Defense Council health program, warned, “[Flint is] not the only place in the United States with tap water problems.”
According to a 2017 report from the NRDC and Threats on Tap, “there were more than 12,000 health-based violations in 5,000 water systems that served over 27 million people across the United States.”
The five water systems with the most health violations were Texas, Puerto Rico, Ohio, Maryland, and Kentucky.
USA Today Network journalists spent 2016 reviewing millions of records from the Environmental Protection Agency and all 50 states. Look what they discovered:
- About 100,000 people get their drinking water from utilities that discovered high lead but failed to treat the water to remove it. Dozens of utilities took more than a year to formulate a treatment plan and even longer to begin treatment.
- Some 4 million Americans get water from small operators who skipped required tests or did not conduct the tests properly, violating a cornerstone of federal safe drinking water laws. The testing is required because, without it, utilities, regulators and people drinking the water can’t know if it’s safe. In more than 2,000 communities, lead tests were skipped more than once. Hundreds repeatedly failed to properly test for five or more years.
- About 850 small water utilities with a documented history of lead contamination – places where state and federal regulators are supposed to pay extra attention – have failed to properly test for lead at least once since 2010.
And it gets much worse than that.
The Blaze reported that: “More than 6 million Americans use water contaminated with toxins linked to cancer, according to a new study by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.”
The New York Times added, “Certain types of cancer – such as breast and prostate cancer – have risen over the past 30 years, and research indicates they are likely tied to pollutants like those found in drinking water.”
The Blaze continued, “That 2016 Harvard study found unsafe levels of toxic chemicals in drinking water of 33 states. The researchers examined more than 36,000 water samples collected across nation. Seventy-five percent of the contaminated water they found came from 13 states: California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois. According to their findings, the highest levels of contaminants ‘were detected in watersheds near industrial sites, military bases, and wastewater-treatment plants.'”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, more than 19 million Americans get sick every year from drinking contaminated water due to just the parasites, viruses and bacteria in drinking water. There are an estimated 4-32 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illness per year from public drinking water systems.
The CDC documented the “Top Causes of Drinking and Recreational Water Outbreaks” as the following:
Top 5 Causes – Drinking Water Outbreaks
Top 5 Causes – Recreational Water Outbreaks
You can now add one more rare heavy toxic metal to the mix in our water: Gadolinium, which is used in enhancing the magnetic resonance imaging, or MRIs.
In my last two columns, I’ve discussed how my wife, Gena, along with children across our nation, have been poisoned by gadolinium-based contrast agents, or GBCAs, injected through MRIs. Gena almost died from them after multiple MRIs.
Well, here’s one more for the record book: With about a third of the 60 million MRIs performed annually using GBCAs, 30 million in the U.S. alone, those GBCAs are also ending up in our water systems and re-entering our human bodies.
For example, in 2016, Chemical & Engineering News reported, “Gadolinium contamination of the San Francisco Bay has increased significantly in the past decade, likely due to the element’s use in magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents, according to a water sample analysis.”
“Vanessa Hatje, now at the Federal University of Bahia, along with Kenneth W. Bruland and A. Russell Flegal at the University of California, Santa Cruz, looked for gadolinium and other rare earth elements in San Francisco Bay water samples collected from 1993 to 2013. In the southern part of the bay, which is surrounded by medical and industrial centers and receives their wastewater, all of the elements showed increases over the time period studied. Gadolinium in particular increased from 23.2 pmol/kg in 1993 to 171.4 pmol/kg in 2013.”
All across our country, GBCAs are excreted by millions of MRI patients into sewage systems. In turn, “none of the GBCAs are removed in waste water treatment plants (WWTP) to a significant extent, so they are transferred to surface water with the clear water discharge from the WWTP,” according to Dr. Henrik Thomsen, who serves as director of CMC Contrast AB and is a professor of radiology of Copenhagen University.
As a result, GBCAs are present in higher amounts than other rare earth elements in densely populated areas with developed health care. That’s true globally from Japan to Germany and all across our country.
In his scholarly journal article, “Are the increasing amounts of gadolinium in surface and tap water dangerous?,” Dr. Thomsen reported, “Every year tons of [GBCAs] are released into the sea and waterways.”
What that means is that GBCAs are being reintroduced into our lakes, rivers, oceans, tap water, drinking water and even our food chain. Hence, GBCAs are being recycled back into humans through – among other ways – fields irrigated by contaminated water that animals are drinking.
This was proved by Drs. J. Lingott, U. Lindner and L. Teglmann, who discovered in 2016 that GBCAs “may reach the human food chain both from plants growing in fields which are irrigated with contaminated surface water and from animals which drink the water.”
No wonder terrorists haven’t hit our water systems yet: They realize we’re doing just fine poisoning our own water sources!
According to Mother Jones, “Contaminants are not the only reason for drinking water’s dismal state in the United States. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country’s water system a D – passing, but not by much. In too many cities, pipes that deliver water to homes are 80 to 100 years old, and lead-contaminated water flows through 6 million to 10 million lead service lines. Then there are the drinking-water plants, most of which use century-old technology for water treatment. The EPA estimates that the government would need to spend nearly $400 billion to upgrade water infrastructure.”
The CDC sure hit this point on the head: “With its many uses for drinking, recreation, sanitation, hygiene, and industry, water is our most precious global resource. Clean and safe drinking water is critical to sustain human life, and without it waterborne illness can be a serious problem.”
I’m haunted by Terrorism Preparedness Coordinator Peter Beering’s reference to our water systems: “quintessential target.”
That is genuinely one reason among many that we started our own water bottling plant right from an underground aquifer on our Texas ranch, and are proud to now offer CFORCE water to the world.
Leonardo da Vinci was right: “Water is the driving force of all nature.”