Why is it important to protect drinking water?

It is important to protect drinking water from contamination for public health, economic, and environmental reasons.  Contamination, the introduction of a pollutant or undesirable material into the air, soil, or water, has many negative and far-reaching effects.

  • Protecting drinking water makes good public health sense.  Water is necessary to all living things. It makes up approximately 70% of the human body's weight and plays a role in its functions, such as digestion and cooling.  Without clean drinking water, we could not survive.  If the drinking water is contaminated, many health risks can result: bacteria can result in illnesses such as hepatitis or cholera; a component of gasoline, benzene, is known to be a carcinogen; lead causes kidney, liver, and nerve damage as well as pregnancy risks.

 

  • Protecting our drinking water makes good economic sense. Water is easy to contaminate but difficult and expensive to clean up.  Once water becomes contaminated, it must be treated or an alternate source of water must be found.  This is expensive and causes the water system to pass on this expense to the consumer.  Contaminated water deters new businesses and industry from forming in the community.

 

  • Protecting drinking water makes good environmental sense.  In the past, people thought that if we buried chemicals in the ground they would disappear.  This is now a proven fallacy that has resulted in dire consequences for our environment.  Everything we put into the environment accumulates.  If one person pours diesel fuel on an ant bed, he or she may feel that no harm is being done to the environment.  However, if everyone pours diesel fuel on their ant beds, we have a large scale problem.  One gallon of used oil can contaminate one million gallons of water.  Contamination can take years to clean up and not all ground water contamination can be treated successfully with current technology.  This is why pollution prevention is crucial.

What is contamination?

Contamination is the introduction of a pollutant or undesirable material into air, soil, or water.  There are three types of contaminants: microorganisms, inorganic chemicals, and organic chemicals.  Microorganisms are living organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and Giardia.  Inorganic chemicals such as nitrate, arsenic and metals are another type of contaminant. Microorganisms and some inorganic chemicals are naturally occurring substances that taken out of drinking water through treatment at our local water systems.  Organic chemicals can be solvents, fuels, and pesticides. 

It is common for us to associate contamination with things such as landfills, gas stations, big industry and agriculture, but we must also remember that contamination can come from everyday activities.  It can come from septic systems, lawn and garden chemicals, pesticides, runoff from highways, beauty shops, and photo processing labs.  Did you know that one gallon of pure trichloroethylene, which is a solvent, can contaminate approximately 292 million gallons of water?  This is the same as saying that 1 drop will contaminate approximately 75,000 gallons of water- the size of an Olympic swimming pool.  

We call the locations listed below significant potential sources of contamination (SPSOCs).  These are facilities that could possibly contaminate drinking water if wastes were handled or disposed of improperly.  This does not mean that they will, just that they have the potential to do so.  Listed with each SPSOC is the contaminant, or contaminants, associated with it.

SPSOC TYPE

CONTAMINANTS OF CONCERN

ABANDONED WELL

SURFACE RUNOFF, IMPROPER USE, CREATES CONDUIT FROM SURFACE

AG / CHM

PESTICIDES, FERTILIZERS, NITRATES, AUTOMOTIVE WASTES (FARMS)

AIRPORT

FUEL, SOLVENTS, AUTOMOTIVE WASTES, OILS & GREASE

ANCHORAGE

FUELS, OILS, LUBRICANTS, SEWAGE FROM IMMPROPERLY OPERATED MARINE SANITATION DEVICES (MSD)

ANIMAL FEED LOT

PATHOGENS, PESTICIDES, NITRATES

ASPHALT PLANT

OILS, FUEL

AST

FUEL OR SOLVENTS

AUTO / BOAT REPAIR

OILS & GREASE, SOLVENTS, ACIDS, BASES, PAINTS, METALS, PHENOLS

BARGE FLEETING

FUELS, OILS, LUBRICANTS, SEWAGE FROM IMPROPERLY OPERATED MSDs,

BARGE REPAIR

SOLVENTS, DETERGENTS, METALS, MISCELLANEOUS ORGANICS, SLUDGES, LUBRICANTS

BATTERY SHOP

ACIDS, LEAD, METALS

BODY / PAINT SHOP

PAINTS, SOLVENTS, OILS & GREASE, ACIDS, AUTOMOTIVE WASTES

BRIDGE/ABUTMENT

AUTOMOTIVE WASTES, SPILLS OF FUELS OR VARIOUS CHEMICALS, HEAVY METALS

CAR WASH

DETERGENTS, WAXES, SOLVENTS, METALS

CEMETERY

FORMALDEHYDE, FERTILIZERS, PESTICIDES, NITRATES

CERCLA SITE

MISC HAZ & NON HAZ WASTES (SITE SPECIFIC)

CHEMICAL PLANT

MISC CHEMICALS (SITE SPECIFIC), FUEL ACIDS, BASES, SOLVENTS, SLUDGES

CLASS 5 INJ WELL

INDUSTRIAL & MOTOR VEHICLE WASTE DISPOSAL, CESSPOOLS (SEPTAGE, PATHOGENS)

DRY CLEAN / LAUND

SOLVENTS, DETERGENTS, BLEACHES

FUEL DOCKS

FUELS, OILS, LUBRICANTS

FUNERAL HOME

FORMALDEHYDE, SOLVENTS

FURNITURE STRIPPING

SOLVENTS, PAINTS, ACIDS, BASES

GENERIC - HIGH

SITE SPECIFIC

GENERIC - LOW

SITE SPECIFIC

GENERIC - MEDIUM

SITE SPECIFIC

GOLF COURSE

FERTILIZERS, PESTICIDES, NITRATES

GRAIN ELEVATOR

FUELS, OILS, LUBRICANTS

HOSPITAL

FUEL, SOLVENTS, BIOLOGICAL WASTE, RADIOLOGICAL WASTE, METALS

IAS SITE

MISC HAZ & NON HAZ WASTES (SITE SPECIFIC)

INACTIVE WATER WELL

SURFACE RUNOFF, IMPROPER USE

INJECTION WELL

HAZARDOUS AND NON-HAZARDOUS INDUSTRIAL WASTE; OIL-FIELD BRINES; SEPTAGE

IRRIGATION WELL

DEWATERING (QUANTITY EFFECT)

LANDING

FUELS, OILS, LUBRICANTS, VARIOUS HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS

LUMBER MILL

SOLVENTS, PHENOLS, METALS

MARINA

FUELS, SEPTAGE

MARINE SALVAGE

ANY WASTE FROM VARIOUS MARITIME ACTIVITY (SITE SPECIFIC)

METAL PLATING

METALS, SOLVENTS, ACIDS, BASES, OILS & GREASE

MILITARY FACILITY

FUEL, AUTOMOTIVE WASTES, SOLVENTS, OILS & GREASE, METALS, AMMUNITION, RADIOACTIVE WASTES

MINES

METALS, ACIDS, MINERALIZED WATER

MIS PLUME

SITE SPECIFIC TO MAJOR INDUSTRIAL FACILITY - KNOWN CONTAMINANT PLUME IN SWPA

NON-CLASS 5 INJ WELL

INDUSTRIAL & HAZARDOUS WASTE, OIL FIELD BRINE, MINING

NUCLEAR PLANT

RADIOACTIVE WASTE

OIL / GAS TANK BATT

PETROLEUM PRODUCTS, OIL FIELD BRINES

OUTFALL

METALS, OIL & GREASE, SOLVENTS, DETERGENTS, SLUDGES, NITRATES, SEWAGE, TREATMENT CHEMICALS

OXIDATION POND

PATHOGENS, SOLVENTS, SLUDGES, DETERGENTS, NITRATES, OILS & GREASE

PAPER MILL

METALS, ACIDS, BASES, SOLVENTS

PETRO SITE (BULK)

FUEL

PIPELINE COMPRESSOR

MERCURY

PLANT NURSERY

FERTILIZERS, PESTICIDES, NITRATES

PORT FACILITY

FUEL, SOLVENTS

POWER PLANT

PCBS, OILS, SOLVENTS, ACIDS

PRINT SHOP

SOLVENTS, METALS, ACIDS, BASES

PROMISCUOUS DUMP

SOLVENTS, PHENOLS, OILS & GREASE, METALS, ACIDS, BASES

RCRA FACILITY

MISCELLANEOUS HAZARDOUS AND NON-HAZARDOUS WASTES (SITE SPECIFIC)

REMEDIATION SITE

MISCELLANEOUS HAZARDOUS AND NON-HAZARDOUS WASTES (SITE SPECIFIC)

RR YARD LOADING

OILS & GREASE, MISC CHEMICALS (SPILLS)

RR YARD MAINTENANCE

OILS & GREASE, SOLVENTS, ACIDS, BASES, PCBS, PAINTS, METALS, FUEL, PHENOLS

RR YARD SWITCHING

OILS & GREASE, MISC CHEMICALS (SPILLS)

SALVAGE YARD

OILS & GREASE, AUTOMOTIVE WASTES, SOLVENTS, FUEL

SAN. LANDFILL ALL

SOLVENTS, OILS & GREASE, METALS, ACIDS, BASES, PESTICIDES

SAND GRAVEL PIT

CREATES CONDUIT FROM SURFACE, SURFACE RUNOFF

SEWER LIFT STATION

PATHOGENS, METALS, OILS & GREASE, SOLVENTS, DETERGENTS, SLUDGES, NITRATES

SEWER TREATMENT

PATHOGENS, METALS OILS & GREASE, SOLVENTS, DETERGENTS, SLUDGES, NITRATES

TRUCK TERMINAL

FUEL, AUTOMOTIVE WASTES, OILS & GREASE

UST ACTIVE

FUEL

UST INACTIVE

FUEL

WOOD TREATMENT

PHENOLS, METALS, SOLVENTS, PETROLEUM PRODUCTS

Fill port covers indicate the presence of underground storage tanks (USTs).
  Leaking USTs are a significant potential source of contamination to underground sources of drinking water.

 

Contaminants can also include the following materials: 
 

  • Acid and base cleaning solutions

  • Antifreeze and coolants

  • Batteries, new and used

  • Brake and transmission fluid

  • Brine solution casting and foundry chemicals

  • Caulking agents and sealants

  • Cleaning solvents

  • Degreasing solvents

  • Disinfectants

  • Electroplating solutions

  • Explosives

  • Food processing wastes

  • Glues, adhesives, and resins

  • Greases

  • Hydraulic fluid

  • Industrial and commercial janitorial supplies

  • Inks, printing and photocopying chemical

  • Laboratory chemicals

  • Metal finishing solutions

  • Oils (petroleum based)

  • Paints, primers, thinners, dyes, stains

  • Wood preservatives

  • Paint solvents and paint removing compounds

  • Plastic resins and catalysts

  • Plasticizers

  • Photo development chemicals

  • Pool chemicals

  • Roofing chemicals and sealers

  • Solders and fluxes

  • Tanning (animal hide) industry chemicals

  • Transformer and capacitor oils/fluids

 



Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality 602 N. Fifth Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802
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