These tests were in response to recent reports across the nation of the occurrence of pharmaceuticals, Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs) and other substances that indicate the presence of wastewater in regular drinking water supplies.
The TMWA took water samples from the intake and outlet of the main water treatment plant, Chalk Bluff, located on S. McCarran Boulevard in Reno. The samples were then sent to MWH Lab in Southern California for analysis.
While the Environmental Protection Agency monitors drinking water quality under the Safe Drinking Water Act, there are currently no regulatory standards for these tested compounds.
Paul Miller, manager of operations and water quality for TMWA, assured that while there are no issued standards, TMWA is not overlooking any extra precautions and issued the samples to be tested before the onset of recent reports.
"The water quality and overall health of the (Truckee) river is an important issue for all users," Miller said. "Although testing for pharmaceutical compounds is not currently required or regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, TMWA went above and beyond drinking water regulations to check if any pharmaceuticals were in our water."
Thirty-one different compounds were analyzed and tested for in the water samples. This included constituents such as pesticides, fuel additives and antibiotics. All were found to be non-detectable or in such small amounts they are considered negligible by testing standards.
The recent reports of these compounds in water supplies are concentrated in large, metropolitan cities, including San Francisco, and highly populated areas like New Jersey. However, the traces were found in the parts per trillion ranges. For reference, Miller compared this amount to one drop of the compound substance in 1,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.
The EPA is addressing this issue with Congress to consider future regulations, Miller said.
"As of right now, there are no known side-effects (of the compounds)." Miller said.
However, Miller said, there have been studies suggesting that water with traces of these compounds is safe. He cited testimony by Dr. Shane Snyder of the Southern Nevada Water Authority to the U.S. Senate.
Snyder stated in his testimony that "…using the highest concentrations (of trace pharmaceuticals) found and the most conservative safety factors to protect susceptible populations such as infants and pregnant women, our report will demonstrate that one could safely consume more than 50,000 eight-ounce glasses of this water per day without any health effects."
TMWA did not confirm when and if there would be further testing. Test analysis was expensive but TMWA is awaiting further notification from Congress and the EPA.
"TMWA, as with all other water utilities across the United States, is awaiting regulatory guidance regarding this matter," Miller said. "TMWA is committed to keeping abreast of these discussions and potential regulatory requirements and will continue to plan for and implement treatment solutions that meet all regulatory requirements."