At the 2018 MACo Summer Conference session “Good to the Last Drop: Keeping Your Water Clean“ attendees learned how state and local governments as well as private sector partners are working hard to protect the health and welfare of local communities by keeping harmful toxins and contaminants out of their water.
The panel began with a presentation by Clifford Mitchell the Director of the Environmental Health Bureau at the Maryland Department of Health. Mitchell set the stage by providing an overview of the shared responsibility among federal, state, and local governments to regulate and protect the integrity of groundwater and surface water, including your drinking water. He also discussed the range of possible contaminants — regulated, unregulated, naturally occurring, and emerging — that must be dealt with.
Leigh Broderick, Environmental Health Director for Carroll County, focused on the specific issue of chlorides in ground. Chlorides are are negatively charged ions that dissolve very readily in water and form very corrosive salts. Think salts used on roads during the winter or naturally occurring at the beach. Broderick discussed the impacts these salts have on the environment and our water systems, as well as the potential but often difficult and costly potential solutions to treat the problem.
John Holaday, CEO of Dispose Rx presented on pharmaceutical contaminants of water. He shared figures on the environmental impacts of drugs in water, and how it is essential to stop them from reaching water sources because it is impossible to filter them out once they are there. Holaday concluded his presentation with a look at how changing habits and certain products, like Dispose Rx can help with preventing drugs from entering the water stream.
Finally, Environmental Health Director for Anne Arundel County Don Curtian presented on an innovative change the county made to how they regulate home septic systems to ensure they are better protecting ground water. Instead of sizing them based on the number of specific rooms in the house, the county sizes them based on the square footage of the home. Systems are now better sized to reflect the larger overall scale of homes being built without having complicated standards for what counts as a “room.”
The session was moderated by Delegate Erek Barron and held on Friday, August 16, 2018 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City.