Monday, January 18, 2010

Chasidy Hobbs on Pensacola's Drinking Water

Emerald Coastkeeper (ECK) Chasidy Hobbs visited the University of West Florida’s Environmental Reporting class on Wednesday, January 13 to speak about recent events concerning Pensacola’s drinking water.

A study presented by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claims that Pensacola Florida has the lowest-rated water utilities out of a list of 100 cities in the United States. Since the release of these results in December, the Emerald Coast Utility Authority (ECUA) has been questioned for its water quality.

“Let’s forget the EWG ranked us 100 and try and understand the situation,” said Hobbs.

Hobbs is the new head chair of ECK, an organization branched from the Waterkeeper Alliance that works to protect the waters of the area. The Waterkeeper alliance was started by John F. Kennedy Jr. after the Hudson Bay caught fire.

Hobbs said that the reports coming from the EWG were faulty, and various questions should be asked in relation to these results.

One of the concerns Hobbs said she had concerning the EWG are their standards for water. According to the ECUA, Pensacola has won the best tasting water for 3 years and has not been in violation of water regulations from 2004-2008. The EWG based their results on chemicals detected since 2004, which conflict with ECUA results from 2004-2008.

"What are the EWG's standards?"

Hobbs also said that over 60,000 chemicals are used in the USA, while less than 100 are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has not changed their regulations for chemicals since the ‘80s.

The ECUA contains 35 harmful chemicals, all of which are not required to be regulated.

Hobbs also questioned the credibility of the EWG. She said they were a consumer advocacy group stationed in Washington, D.C., and have done small studies relating to cell phones, sunscreen and skincare products. In this current study, the EWG did not do the actual testing of the water themselves.

Hobbs said she has been working to get groups such as the ECUA and EWG together for a meeting concerning this matter.

She said that the next big project she would like to tackle after this matter is the offshore drilling of the panhandle area.


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