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Bergen County NJ. Tap Water. United Water Co. Sodium in Our Water.

I must confess. I don't read all the mail I receive. Many of them end up, straight away, in the pile of papers meant for the municipal recycling pick-up truck. I am talking about mail regarding recent elections for Board of Directors at the credit union, or the latest news from the regional school system. Stuff like that, I am not truly interested in.

I did pay attention to one piece of innocuous-looking mail from the water company. It turned out to have a bit of a sting. What is true here in Bergen County could be true at your area of the country as well. Perhaps, we should take a harder look at how we are affecting our water supply and what the local water company is doing about it.

United Water New Jersey wanted to inform us that the level of sodium in our drinking water was higher than the upper limits set by the NJ Division of Environmental Protection (DEP). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also involved in monitoring water quality but it has not set upper limits to the amount of sodium in our drinking water unlike the DEP.

Anyway, the DEP has set the upper limit at 50 parts per million (ppm). Test results from 2009 showed that United Water---our water company---exceeded the limit, averaging 76ppm and 69ppm at the Haworth Water Treatment Plant and the Upper Saddle River wells.

By February 2010, tests showed that United Water continued to exceed the limits for sodium. The numbers ae 73ppm and 67ppm respectively at those two places named above. If you compare the figures, nothing much has changed.

The DEP argues that a higher level of sodium in our water---higher than the stated upper limits set by them---is not a health threat to healthy individuals because a much greater sodium intake can be had from the food they eat.

Yeah, but how many among us is a perfectly healthy individual? United Water suggested that if you are on a sodium restricted diet, then better consult your health care provider.

Well, in that case, this is pretty serious stuff. Did you know that our drinking water in Bergen County has elevated amounts of sodium?

But what is more surprising is the culprit. According to United Water New Jersey, it's road salt! In their letter, they said, " Road salt run-off affecting our source water quality is the leading cause of elevated sodium levels in the drinking water supply. " United Water assures us that they are working with local communities to address the problem.

Assuming that the water company is correct and not passing the buck, then that illustrates how easily our water supply is affected by what is out there. What else on the road seeps into our water supply? I reckon anything we throw on the ground, or into the streams and rivers, especially in large quantities. That's how interconnected and fragile our environment is. Clean and healthy water, we take it for granted most of the time.


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