This editorial letter originally appeared in WQP July 2021 issue as "Hello Summer, Hello Friends"
Summertime is here. A time for family barbecues, leisurely afternoons by a pool and camping trips under the stars. Yet for some, summer marks a time for blue-green algae and water scarcity. I certainly hope you fall in the former and not the latter.
Warm temperatures can bring with it a host of troubling water quality and access concerns, and these concerns are only rising in recent years. In West Palm Beach, Florida, for instance, cylindrospermopsin — a toxin produced by cyanobacteria and often referred to as blue-green algae — was detected at high levels in the drinking water from the city’s municipal water treatment plant, according to The Palm Beach Post. The city activated emergency wells, added powdered-activated carbon and increased chlorine levels in the final stages of treatment in an effort to combat the contaminant.
Stories of blue-green algae contamination are not unique as other states, such as Oregon and Ohio, are all too familiar with, but this particular case in West Palm Beach is a bit unique. No surface water treatment plant in the state has recorded high levels of this particular contaminant before, clocking in at 1.5 ppb and exceeding the U.S. EPA guideline of the unregulated contaminant of 0.7 ppb. Cylindrospermopsin is also proving difficult to quickly test for and has shown resilience; merely boiling water is not sufficient to remove it. Overall, it appears challenging to treat at the point-of-use, as well, and many residents are turning to bottled water in the interim.
Meanwhile on the West Coast, though this issue certainly impacts residents across the country and globe, water scarcity concerns are rapidly mounting. As of press time, 41 California counties are under a drought emergency declaration, according to The Washington Post. And Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, is only 37% full. In times like these when challenges face us from all sides, it’s important to come together as a community to problem solve. Whether you are meeting new challenges with competitors or friends, we’re still neighbors. It bears repeating the necessity of team work and knowledge-sharing to push forward the collective good.
On the subject of Las Vegas and the need to bring together competitors and friends alike, industry travel and trade shows are carefully starting to open back up as we work to safely overcome the coronavirus pandemic. After a year-and-a-half hiatus, I will be hopping back on airplanes and heading to both the Texas Water Quality Association and national Water Quality Association conventions in July. I’d love to see you, hear how the last year has been treating you, and what you’re looking forward to in the year to come. Email me at email@example.com or stop by our WQA Convention & Exposition booth #754.