of immediate and periodic testing of public water
supply systems for pesticides and other chemical
"Furthermore, the results of all such tests should
be published in local newspapers, since this repre-
sents a right-to-know issue," the panel stated in a
letter to House Speaker Lee Moffltt.
"The reason that pesticide and groundwater
matter so much in Florida is that we're so heavily
agriculturalized. If we were in another state, if we
got our water from reservoirs high in the mountains,
it wouldn't matter so much," said William Sadowski,
task force chairman.
Florida to order far more water tests
Large systems soon will have to check fo 131 chemicals
By Vitoria Churchvil
Nine out of 10 Floridians depend on groundwater
o wr Sn unnsrTA for their drinking supplies. Pesticide use is heavier
in Florida than in any other state.
During the next six months the state will order Tests costs will range from $680 to $1,000, ER
large suppliers of drinking water to test for 131 officials said. Those costs will be passed on to con-
chicals, more than si times the number now sumers, showing up in higher home water bills.
required Florida's top environmental off said "We're talking about more than a hal million dol-
Friday. l just to do the testing in South Florida alone,"
In the meantime, the suppliers houldbegin vo- said John Maly, executive director of the South
intary testing at once, Victoria Tachinkel, cretary Florida Water Management District. "This is a seri.
of the state Department of Environm a Ru ous problem and it's not going to be solved quickly
tion, told The Orand6 Sentinel. cheaply."
As soon as the state Department of Environmental Environmental om als esimate that Florida has
4 about 2,700 community water systems, defined as
Regulation can write the rules, water systems that wells that serve 25 or more people. Another 3,000
serve 1,000 or more people will be required to sam- are designated non-community systems because
pie for chemicals ranging from PCBs, malathion to they serve fewer people. But non-community sys-
vinyl chloride, Tschinkel said. tenm, such as wells at churches or tourist stops,
The expanded testing plan stems from concerns often serve hundreds of people, said Al Bishop, the
aroused last year by the finding of the pesticide DER chief of water management.
Temik In groundwater. Those concerns continue to How the state can test the 500;000 to 700,000 pri-
mount with the almost daily announcements that vate wells in the state, estimated to cost $10 million,
other agricultural chemical, EDB, has been found is an unresolved problem, Tschinkel said.
in more wells. The task force also agreed to push the Legislature
The testing for EDB, or ethylene dibromide, and to transfer regulation of pesticide use from the state
Temik has been done on an emergency basis and is Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
to the DER.
lot required by law. Both pesticides are induded in anel members last year urged the Legislature to
be expanded list along with 32 other pesticides. broaden the DE's power to regulate pesticides so
the agency could prevent groundwater'contamina- i
Under current water quality standards, public util. tton. But when lawmakers passed the $11 million
ties test for only six pesticides and about a dozen Water Quality Assurance Act, they refused to in.
their chemicals once every three years. clude expanded pesticide authority for the DER.
"The contamination of groundwater was so un- "When you want to have government act reason-
xpected for so long no one thought these chemicals ably, you have to have a coincidence of responsibil- I
rould make their way into the drinking water ity and the power to act. That's where the hole is
supply Tschinkel said. here," Sadowski said.
In a letter that will be sent next week to the own- Ernie Neff, public affairs manager of Florida Cit-'
rs of hundreds of public water systems, Tschinkel rus Mutual, said the state's largest group of growers
sks them to forward the test results by June. has not decided whether to oppose the proposal to
If the water systems are found contaminated, the give the DER increased authority over pesticides.
>ER will help the owners plan treatment alterna- The group has 15,000 members.
lives. If the supplies are clean, no more samples will Doyle Conner, who has been Florida commission-
e required until June 1987, the letter states. er of agriculture for 24 years, has opposed the shift,
"We are making this request for sampling to begin which Sadowski's panel first proposed last year.
ow. However ... we anticipate that rule develop. Conner defends his record by pointing out that he I
sent will follow soon, to require this type of moni- banned use of Temik and EDB this year as soon as :
ring," the letter states "We also intend to follow the chemicals were found in drinking water wells.
p this request with a similar request to all commu- The Temik ban will be lifted Jan. 1 when new
ity systems serving less than 1,000." rules on how to apply it go Into effect. The U.S.
Tschinkel was, in Orlando for a meeting of the Environmental Protection Agency banned EDB as a
lorida Task Force on Water Issues. soil fumigant in September, two months after Con-
The blue-ribbon panel also endorsed the concept ner acted.