Making endangered river safe for drinking

\'Drinking water in the past several years continues to get higher and higher in quality,\' says Patty Gamby, deputy general manager with the Washington Aqueduct. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – With the drinking water source for five million people topping an advocacy group’s list of endangered rivers, the question is inevitable. Is it safe to drink water that comes from the Potomac River?

“Drinking water in the past several years continues to get higher and higher in quality,” says Patty Gamby, deputy general manager with the Washington Aqueduct, which produces drinking water for D.C., Arlington County and the City of Falls Church.

“We get what Mother Nature gives us,” says Gamby. “Once the river water comes in, that’s what we have to work with.”

Pointing to monitors in the treatment facility, located on MacArthur Boulevard at the western edge of the District, Gamby says that “the treatment process is specifically designed for that source water.”

The Environmental Protection Agency continues to raise the bar in the Safe Drinking Water Act, the 1974 law which regulates the nation’s drinking water supply.

“As EPA is changing regulations, they’re tightening regulations and adding contaminants that we have to monitor for,” Gamby says.

Despite the Potomac’s inclusion on the list, Gamby does see a silver lining.

“It seems like everything is getting worse, getting worse, but drinking water, in fact, has gotten significantly better,” he says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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