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Water Safety Projects

EHS-Net water safety projects include developing multisite projects with our funded partners. EHS-Net's current multisite project looks at the seasonality of non-community water systems to understand how they provide safe drinking water and about vulnerabilities of those systems. Noncommunity water systems are public water systems that serve the public but are not a community system.

Each EHS-Net partner is also funded to conduct individual projects to improve the practice of environmental health. Those individual projects include the following:

California

The California Department of Public Health has two joint food and water projects:

  • Safety risk factors associated with mobile food vehicles.
  • Assessment of local environmental health agencies in California. These data will help EHS-Net create a comprehensive data collection tool for local, state, and county environmental health agencies.

California also has three projects on pools and recreational water:

  • Developing training courses using the Model Aquatic Health Code.
  • Examining increased turnover rates, pool water clarity, and bacteriological safety by looking at pool closures and their relationship to requirements for certification of pool operators.
  • Evaluating the quality of water at each stage of input and outflow at flow-through recreational swimming sites. Flow-through pools are unique natural-source bodies of water for recreational swimming activities in California.

Cerro Gordo County, Iowa

The Cerro Gordo County Department of Health and partner organizations are working to minimize the risk for arsenic exposure from wells. As part of this work, they are

  • Determining groundwater arsenic concentrations,
  • Identifying possible sources of arsenic, and
  • Establishing best practices for well construction to minimize the risk of arsenic exposure.

The partners are sampling and analyzing selected private wells twice a year during the wet and dry seasons for 3 years. They are also collecting and analyzing rock samples from new wells gain insight to the groundwater concentrations of arsenic. The results could affect local policy changes that may include new drilling or sampling methods for all wells.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health is working on a project related to private well water. They are looking at links between private well water and enteric illnesses such as Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. This project is nine southeastern Minnesota counties with high cattle density and karst topography.

Minnesota is also leading completion of a paper that documents findings from the EHS-Net project titled Improving Waterborne Disease Outbreak Investigation Reporting—A Review of Outbreak Reporting in Three States. In that project, EHS-Net looked at the history of waterborne disease outbreaks to find ways to protect communities from these outbreaks in the future.

New York

The New York State Department of Health is using fluid dynamics software to

  • Improve methods used to evaluate water treatment processes and
  • Find out how well proposed disinfection contact systems in plant designs will work.

Other activities under way in New York State include projects to

  • Determine types and concentrations of pharmaceuticals and personal care products beneath on-site septic systems in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed.
  • Look at the department’s problem alerts and concurrent emergency department syndromic surveillance.
  • Assess and summarize private well testing in Rockland County to estimate whether contaminants in private wells in the county exceed national and state drinking water standards.

Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Health is working on two projects related to water wells and water distribution in middle Tennessee:

  • A comparison of land use, surface water, and socioeconomic status against cryptosporidiosis.
  • A project to map the location of water wells and onsite sewage.

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