Government Fails to Monitor Degradation of Water Supply


Government Fails to Monitor Degradation of Water Supply
reprinted from
The People
January 1997



According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year in the United States approximately 940,000 people get sick and 900 people die from contaminated tap water. Since 1971, more than 600 outbreaks of waterborne disease have been reported to the CDC and to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There is no nationwide monitoring program, however, and according to Michael Kramer, an epidemiologist working for the CDC, the official number represents "just a fraction of the outbreaks that occur."

From data provided by the CDC and the EPA, the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS compiled a list of the worst waterborne disease outbreaks from 1986 to 1994. In 14 localities in 11 states there were 427,713 cases of illness, including 127 deaths. Most were in Milwaukee, in March 1993, where there were 400,000 cases, including 104 deaths.

The pollution of ground water from the application of nitrate fertilizers and pesticides to agricultural land is now more than double what it was 30 years ago, according to the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, and such pollution affects 60 percent of the length of rivers and half of the area of lakes. A study by the EPA released in December 1995 estimated that, "Nearly 40 percent of the nation's rivers and lakes are too polluted for safe swimming or fishing -- let alone drinking."

The obstacles faced by many cities present a very bad picture. What is even worse, indeed frightening, are reports about deformed frogs found in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Vermont and Quebec. An article in the SEATTLE POST- INTELLIGENCER last fall reported that, "Scientists and locals are seeing...grotesquely misshapen limbs, along with frogs with tails, missing or shrunken eyes, and smaller sex organs.

"In fact, scientists have had a hard time finding wetlands in Minnesota with no deformed frogs.

"Students from the Minnesota New Country School in Le Sueur, in the heart of the state's farm country, first reported the deformed leopard frogs during a field trip to a wetland last year.

"Cindy Reinitz, the teacher who has become known as 'The Frog Lady' since her students made the discovery, said there is at least one person with cancer in every household around the wetland. But scientists have made no direct link between the frog abnormalities and cancer."

Birth defects, mutations and cancer are what Rachel Carson predicted when she wrote SILENT SPRING in 1962. She and other knowledgeable biologists opposed the promiscuous use of pesticides and herbicides. She pointed out that when toxic chemicals were applied to farmlands, presumably to kill a certain insect considered a pest, the same insect would soon multiply because the chemical killed off its natural enemies, which would normally limit its numbers. Many of these chemicals are no longer sold, not because chemical capitalists suddenly admitted that Carson was right, but because farmers realized this was happening. By then, however, much environmental damage was done.

In spite of the irrefutable evidence presented by Carson and other reputable biologists, the chemical capitalists have been allowed to continue to sell their poisons, falsely claiming that there would be severe worldwide shortages of cotton, wool and a variety of foodstuffs if agricultural land were not dosed with the dangerous stuff they wanted to sell.

The deformed frogs found in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota and elsewhere furnish conclusive proof that the capitalist class has never acted in the past, and cannot be expected to act in the future, in any way beneficial to the majority of the people. Indeed, their relentless pursuit of profits is threatening our very existence in many ways.