Report proposes strategies for reducing pollutants in drinking water systems

Jun 07, 2011 By Tina Dechausay

Researchers have known for more than 40 years that pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) such as hormones, prescription drugs and insecticides, can end up in drinking water systems. A report prepared by the Texas Tech University’s Center for Water & Law Policy leaves aside the question of what, if anything, should be done, and asks instead, what can be done?

The report, “Alternative Strategies for Managing Pharmaceutical and in Resources,” is the third phase of a long-term project funded by a $450,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The report acknowledges the difficulty of addressing PPCPs through the legal system and legislation/ government action. Authors Gabriel Eckstein and George William Sherk propose that a more effective way of responding to PPCPs in supplies may be to focus on alternative strategies that stress removing PPCPs from the source. For example, pharmaceutical and product manufacturers could create take-back programs, potentially reducing the amount of PPCPs that are thrown away.

In addition to the alternative strategies, the report also includes a summary of current research, a review of short- and long-term impacts on human and environmental health, and current legal and governmental mechanisms by which water supplies are protected. Furthermore, the research discusses a case study – phase two of the EPA funded project – in which studies were conducted in West Texas on the presence of PPCPs in treated water returned to the environment.

A website, www.micropollutants.org, was created in phase one of this project, and houses the complete report (available for download in PDF format). The website is also a clearinghouse for data and reports about PPCPs in drinking across the country.

Eckstein, a professor of law at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, is a senior fellow with the Texas Tech Center for Water Law & Policy. Prior to joining the law faculty of Texas Wesleyan, Eckstein held the George W. McCleskey Chair in Water Law at the Texas Tech School of Law where he also served as the first director of the Center for Water Law & Policy. An internationally recognized expert in water law, Eckstein has worked directly with the United Nations and other world bodies on water-related issues and laws.

Sherk is chief operating officer of the International Performance Assessment Centre for Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide (IPAC-CO2) in Regina, Saskatchewan. Prior to joining IPAC-CO2, Sherk was Managing Director of the Colorado Energy Research Institute at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. and an adjunct professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He is also of counsel to the law firm of Sullivan & Worcester in Washington, D.C., and an honorary associate at the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee in Scotland.

The Center for Water Law & Policy at Texas Tech University was created in 2005 in response to the growing need for research into and information about global water issues. It was designed to create and nurture opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration on legal and policy issues related to the use, allocation, management, regulation, and conservation of fresh water resources at all levels of civil society – from the purely local to the decisively global. The center is part of the Texas Tech interdisciplinary water initiative, which involves faculty and students representing the disciplines of law, public policy, economics, agriculture, geosciences, engineering, biological sciences and health sciences.

Explore further: Muddy forests, shorter winters present challenges for loggers

Provided by Texas Tech University

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The constitutionality of health care reform

Feb 15, 2011

President Obama’s health care reform legislation has been the subject of lively political and legal debate. Many lawsuits have been filed to prevent the implementation of the legislation. These lawsuits claim that ...

Briefs: Fred Campbell to join FCC

Dec 02, 2005

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin announced Friday that Fred Campbell will serve as his legal adviser for Wireless Issues.

Alternative fuels may drain dwindling water supplies

Oct 20, 2008

As the search for new fuels intensifies, researchers in Texas report that switching to certain alternative fuels to power cars, trucks, and SUVs may require the use of much more water than conventional petroleum-based gasoline ...

Recommended for you

Rising anger as Nicaragua canal to break ground

Dec 21, 2014

As a conscripted soldier during the Contra War of the 1980s, Esteban Ruiz used to flee from battles because he didn't want to have to kill anyone. But now, as the 47-year-old farmer prepares to fight for ...

Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

Dec 20, 2014

One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.