Addressing Water Supply Concerns in Winter Springs: Recent Update From the Director of Utilities

Addressing Water Supply Concerns in Winter Springs: Recent Update From the Director of Utilities

Residents of Winter Springs,

Here is an update from Bilal Iftikhar, the Director of Utilities regarding the concerns of the Water Distribution System in Winter Springs:

We understand that recent boil water alerts and concerns related to our water distribution system have caused inconvenience and frustration for many of our valued residents. We want to assure you that we are fully committed to addressing these issues to ensure the safety and reliability of our water supply.We empathize with the hardships this has caused for you and your families. 

1. What does the City currently have in reserve for the express use of equipment replacement at the end of it’s expected useful life? 

The City currently has reserves of approximately $16 million.  This was recently presented as part of the proposed budget/rate study for water/wastewater utilities in the coming years with a budget of $166 million.  Along with the proposed rate increase, the City anticipates taking SRF (state revolving fund loans) and utilizing much of the existing reserves in order to push forward with necessary projects, with the most significant being development of two new wastewater treatment facilities (as the current wastewater treatment facilities are well beyond there useful life).  Note we are also seeking grants where possible, but these are often project specific and limited in nature.  The City also currently has $18 million in ARPA funds which are anticipated in this budget. 

2. When did the City most recently engage with a third party firm that is capable of performing a full engineering study on the City’s water supply infrastructure? 

The most recent engineering contract was established in 2021, which was a reselection of the City’s on-call engineering consultants.  Specific to water/wastewater, the initial focus of this contract was the treatment facilities.  At that time, the primary needs surrounded potable water quality with improvements at water plant #1.  On the wastewater side, urgent repairs and replacement of the two aging/failing wastewater treatment plants were the major focus.  Additional items also included lift station rehabilitation, reclaimed system expansion, and reliability projects such as backup generators.  The City also engaged engineering consultants to develop a wastewater/reclaimed master plan to identify system need, which helped to create much of the currently established Capital Improvement Program (CIP). 

Since I joined the City, which was only about 5 months ago, I have established a plan for our wastewater treatment facilities, the next step will be to focus on the collection and distribution system piping.  Primarily, given the continuing failures in the potable system, we plan to focus on the potable distribution system in 2024. Our goal is to begin a City-wide look at the potable water system assets, including a valve assessment program and pipeline prioritization for future repair/replacement.   With more than 150 miles of water main, this will take time to accomplish, and improvements will require funding.  We have already established needs for some pipeline replacement, but we expect more recommendations will come out of these analyses.  For this reason, our proposed budget carries an annual pipeline replacement line item. Even with the increase,  funds are limited and repairs and replacements will have to be planned strategically.

3. What are the current approved and funded plans for replacement of aged, defective and inoperable equipment including water treatment plants, potable water supply lines, sewer return lines, lift stations, pumping station, etc.? 

The City has recently established an updated Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for utilities.  This identified numerous projects including two new wastewater treatment plants, lift station replacements, and other collection system improvements.  On the potable side, this includes further optimization of the treatment processes, reliability improvements, water main assessment, valve and water main replacements. A copy of the current CIP is attached for your reference. Please note this CIP list is not final, and we will continue to update information as we determine necessary projects (such as water main replacements). Related to the CIP, please note that we recently conducted and presented a rate study based on our proposed CIP to the commission.  The rate study proposes significant rate increases in the coming years in order to fund the proposed CIP. However, the rate increases are not yet approved. 

Since joining the City, my goal is to remain very open to our community with our goals and plans to improve upon the City’s water/wastewater infrastructure.  However, the expected projects are not a simple undertaking.  Completion of these projects to improve the City will take many years and require the funding to pay for them. This will require the support from our City leadership and citizens. 

Additional comments on recent main breaks: 

I noted some concerns about the recent water main breaks.  Remaining open in our communication, I’m providing you with some information below: 

First, I’m sorry that our residents have to deal with the breaks and the inconvenience that goes along with these breaks, such as low pressure and boil water alerts. I can assure you we are also concerned with the recent continued water main breaks which have occurred.  Please note there are a variety of reasons for the system breaks, and each of the recent breaks have occurred for different reasons, varying from nearby structures inducing a failure to fiber contractors drilling through the pipe. A few of the many factors which can lead to breaks include: 

  1. Aging infrastructure – This is a challenge in every municipality. Certain materials/era’s of construction are more vulnerable than others. We are aware of areas of the system which have pipe material which is more prone to breaks and we are focusing on these areas.   
  2. Loading – External loading/forces and soil conditions can often lead to failure when the pipe cannot handle loading from the nearby forces (vehicle, structures, etc).  In particular when soils “soften” in wet/flooded conditions, the pipe becomes more vulnerable. 
  3. Nearby Construction – Often, area construction work such as installation of other utilities by 3rd party contractors can lead to a failure.  A few of the recent failures are related to directional drilling of fiber which hit our utilities. We have also recently met with fiber contractors to address recent issues. 
  4. Crossings – Special crossings or conflicts with other utilities (mostly underground) are often more vulnerable (these are difficult to find, such as when a pipe was improperly installed against another structure, which ultimately leads to a failure) 
  5. Storm Events – Note that Hurricane Ian caused a record amount of flooding and impacts to the City, which washed out structures, uprooted trees, etc (impacting pipelines with it).  This accounted for many of the water main breaks last year. 

We believe some more recent failures may still be related to flooding impacts from last year, in particular with settlement/movement which could add to pipeline stress/loading. 

We as a City are not alone, and unfortunately, every utility will experience main breaks.  With that said, the City recognizes that there are areas of the City which were originally developed with pipeline which is more likely to break than other materials.  We will remain focused on these items, but again, please understand that this will take time and will require funding to accomplish. 

Thank you for your patience, understanding and support as we plan and then work though this crucial endeavor. We are committed to making the necessary improvements, and we are confident that, with your support, our water distribution system will be better than ever.


Bilal Iftikhar  

1,4-Dioxane in Seminole County Water

1,4-Dioxane in Seminole County Water

1,4-Dioxane Update:

Recently it was discovered that a toxic industrial chemical, 1,4-dioxane, had been found to have infiltrated the Floridan Aquifer, our region’s source of drinking water.

On July 31, 2023, Winter Springs sampled its potable water systems within the City for traces of 1,4-dioxane.

Water samples were taken from all three Winter Springs Water Treatment Plants at the wells and from the points of entry(POE) and sent to a lab for analysis.

On August 11, 2023, the City received the results from the lab and was informed that the levels were found to be non-detectable (ND).

The presence of the contaminating chemical, 1,4-dioxane, has been found in water across Seminole County, Lake Mary and Sanford for years. It has been widely used in laboratory and manufacturing processes and has been a byproduct of chemicals used in personal care products, laundry detergents and food.

Health advisory levels for 1,4-dioxane are set at 0.35 parts per billion in groundwater, surface water and soil and are regulated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Levels of 1,4-dioxane at Seminole County’s Markham Regional Water Treatment Plant have averaged 0.18 parts per billion, roughly half of the EPA’s health advisory, officials said.

Currently, 1,4-dioxane is not federally regulated by the EPA’s Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water. Though, it has been included in the list of proposed chemicals to be federally regulated by the EPA in the future.

The current EPA Health Advisory Level (HAL) for 1,4-dioxane is 0.35 micrograms per liter (µg/L) considering an acceptable cancer risk of 1 in a million. 0.35 µg/L is the equivalent of approximately 5 filled shot glasses (7.5 oz) added to approximately 150 million gallons of water.

Drinking water at or below the HAL for a lifetime is not expected to cause any increased harmful health effects.

The EPA Health Advisory Level of 0.35 ug/l is not a promulgated Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) that is enforceable.  The EPA is “continuing to evaluate for MCL” with no indication of timing.

As for Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) enforces state regulated levels for 1,4-dioxane in groundwater.  The Florida Administrative Code identifies a Groundwater Cleanup Target Level (GTCL) of 3.2 ug/L in groundwater that is enforceable. 

1,4-dioxane and PFAS’s regulation continues to evolve from a regulatory standpoint and is much closer to having associated Federal enforceable Maximum Containment Level (MCL).

Download PDF:

Reclaimed Water System: Low Pressure

Reclaimed Water System: Low Pressure

Recently, the RCW (reclaimed water system) has experienced service pressure issues and low pressure has been experienced by some City residents.  Florida’s weather pattern typically experiences increased temperatures in the March or April months and the consistent summer rains start between May and June.  This year, the consistent summer rains typically experienced between May and June, have not occurred.  The result is warmer, dryer conditions and increased RCW demand for landscape irrigation. 

The City’s RCW system has a finite amount of water available every day.  This is due to the water reclamation facilities treating the amount of wastewater that is received.  During these few days, if the RCW demand exceeds the amount of wastewater received, there is a water volume deficit.  To mitigate the effects, RCW water is pumped from where water is available to where it is needed during non-irrigation (daylight) hours.  During this process, some customers may experience lower than normal RCW pressures.  In some instances, it has required a longer time frame than the non-irrigation hours in order to transfer a sufficient volume of RCW water for the anticipated RCW demand.  However, RCW has typically been available during permitted (night time) irrigation hours.  The extra effort to mitigate the effects will likely continue until the more typical summer rains return and RCW irrigation demand subsides.

Until normal rains return, all customers can do their part to support the RCW system.  During this time of year, irrigation is permitted two days per week during nighttime hours as posted on the City’s website.  Customers can minimize the amount of time per irrigation zone, which reduces demand and saves money on their utility bill.  Rain sensors installed on irrigation systems detect when rain has occurred and will delay irrigation when it is not needed.  These efforts by everyone conserves precious water resources for customers and the environment.

We are continuing to work on a few improvements that may help with the pressure.

Time of the YearOdd-Numbered Addressor No AddressEven-Numbered AddressNonresidential Properties
Daylight Saving TimeWednesday/SaturdayThursday/SundayTuesday/Friday
Eastern Standard TimeSaturdaySundayTuesday
  • NO water is allowed between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on any day
  • Water only when neededWater for no more than one hour per zone
  • Restrictions apply to private wells and pumps, ground or surface water, and water from public and private utilities

These rules apply if you are using potable water or a private well for irrigation. If you have reclaimed water for irrigation, then you may water two days per week year-round.

Winter Springs Drinking Water Quality Update (2023)

Winter Springs Drinking Water Quality Update (2023)

As a valued resident of Winter Springs, it’s essential for you to be informed about the quality of the drinking water supplied to our community. We’re pleased to share the recent findings and updates about our commitment to ensuring optimal water quality.

Currently, Winter Springs meets all the EPA Standards for Federal Drinking Water. For your reference, the following contaminants were all detected at levels below the regulatory limit, also referred to as the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL):

» Barium » Nitrate (as N) » Fluoride » Sodium

» Lead » Copper » Cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene » Dalapon

» Chlorine » Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) » Haloacetic Acids (HAA5)

These regulations, prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are in place to ensure that the tap water you consume is safe. In addition to the MCL, it’s worth noting the Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level (MRDL) – this is the highest level of a disinfectant allowed in drinking water.

Next Steps:

  1. 1,4-Dioxane testing in-progress
  2. WTP #2 and 3 process optimizations
  3. WTP #1, 2 and 3 sulfide evaluation
  4. Additional taste and odor optimizations

301 Agenda Item; Winter Springs: August 14, 2023 Commission Meeting 

This upcoming meeting will focus on a myriad of service optimizations:

  1. Permits for relocating the chlorine injection points at the Water Treatment Plants (WTP)
  2. Evaluating sulfide removal methods at the WTPs through field samples
  3. Coordinating the caustic squeeze process
  4. Flow data verification
  5. As-needed support for the distribution/collection system

Winter Springs Drinking Water Update

The City of Winter Springs is consistently looking for ways to further improve our potable water quality and aesthetics. In line with this commitment, we are collaborating with Carollo Engineers, Inc. to provide advanced technical support in several areas:

  1. Sulfide removal
  2. Ion exchange system optimization
  3. Permits acquisition
  4. Extensive water quality testing, and more.

This intensive project includes both hands-on field sampling and a thorough desktop analysis of historical data. We are investing a total of $194,244.66 into this initiative, reaffirming our dedication to delivering the highest water quality standards.

We appreciate your trust in our services and remain dedicated to ensuring Winter Springs has access to clean, safe, and high-quality drinking water. For more detailed insights, please feel free to explore the embedded presentations or contact our me for more information.

New EPA Drinking Regulations Proposed

New EPA Drinking Regulations Proposed

NEW EPA DRINKING REGULATIONS PROPOSED for Man-Made Chemicals PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances)

There is currently no federal mandate to regulate public water systems to test for PFAS chemicals or take steps to filter them out of their supplies before it reaches consumers.

On March 14, 2023, EPA announced the proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for six PFAS including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA, commonly known as GenX Chemicals), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS).

The limits, known as maximum contaminant levels, or MCLs, are the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. The new MCL requires water treatment plants to lower PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and GenX to much safer levels than currently exist in water systems.

These are just six of the forever chemicals known as PFAS, a large family of fluorinated chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. Even at low levels, they have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, immune system damage and other serious health problems. The EPA has known about the risks from PFAS at least since the 1990s.

PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1940s. They have been used to make nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. 

The proposed PFAS NPDWR does not require any actions until it is finalized. EPA anticipates finalizing the regulation by the end of 2023.

EPA expects that if fully implemented, the rule will prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious PFAS-attributable illnesses;  cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.

Where are PFAS found?
  1. Cleaning products.
  2. Water-resistant fabrics, such as rain jackets, umbrellas and tents.
  3. Grease-resistant paper.
  4. Nonstick cookware.
  5. Personal care products, like shampoo, dental floss, nail polish, and eye makeup.
  6. Stain-resistant coatings used on carpets, upholstery, and other fabrics.
  7. Fish
  8. Cereals
  9. Water
  10. Air
  11. Soil

PTFE, best known by the brand name Teflon™, is typically made using several hazardous PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances) that have polluted drinking water across the globe.

PFAS have been found in some brands of bottled water. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not put enforceable limits in place yet.

Reduce Use of Products that Contain PFAS:
  1. Check product labels for ingredients that include the words “fluoro” or “perfluoro.”
  2. Be aware of packaging for foods that contain grease-repellent coatings. …
  3. Avoid stain-resistance treatments. …
  4. Avoid or reduce use of non-stick cookware.
Winter Springs Gee Creek Update

Winter Springs Gee Creek Update


The City of Winter Springs Public Works staff has been focused for the past few weeks on the debris clean-up No Name and Gee Creeks. The City is aware of the sediment build-up at the culverts on Alton Road and attempted to remove the sediment in-house but the cities equipment could not reach far enough into the creek bed. The City has since contracted a vendor to do so and they are scheduled to address this in late March/early April. They are doing the same for other areas throughout the City.

Once we receive formal notification from NRCS of our funding for the larger debris clean-up, such as larger trees, we will solicit one maybe two contractors to complete the clean-up; which is anticipated to be completed in May 2023.

Gee Creek is a 5.0 mile stream.

This waterbody is located within: Lake Jesup Watershed Gee Creek Watershed

Size and Volume

Length within Atlases

4.97 miles


Lake Kathryn, Seminole County


Unnamed Swamp West Of Lake Jessup

Drainage Basins

Middle St. Johns River

Wastewater Unauthorized Discharge

Wastewater Unauthorized Discharge

September 8, 2022

Winter Springs West WRF

Facility ID No.: FLA011067

Seminole County

Subject: Unauthorized Discharge at 1000 W SR 434

The Department acknowledges that Winter Springs West WRF has reported an Unauthorized Discharge of 84,000 gallons of fully treated wastewater on August 29, 2022. The Department acknowledges receipt of the necessary information related to the spill.  The Department is not initiating formal enforcement proceedings at this time; however, this memorandum does not preclude the referenced spill from further action in the future in accordance with Sections 403.121, 403.131, 403.141 and 403.161, Florida Statutes.

Cody D. Keen

OPS Environmental Specialist I

Central District, FDEP

Water Contamination

Water Contamination


Safe drinking water is a critical component of human life, but pollution threatens many of our water supplies. Agriculture is one of the key causes of water pollution. Industrial activities, overflowing sewers and naturally occurring substances can also contaminate our drinking water. Knowing the signs of water contamination will help you take actions that will keep you and your family safe.

When we turn on the tap, we trust that the water coming out of it is safe, but that’s not always the case.

Everything from agricultural runoff to lead pipes to byproducts of water decontamination can threaten our water’s safety. And the Safe Drinking Water Act that’s supposed to protect our drinking water doesn’t even look for toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS chemicals, even though the contaminants have been linked to cancer and birth defects.

That’s why it’s important to understand how these types of contamination happen and what you can do to protect your health and the environment.

Safe Drinking Water Act

The federal government regulates and protects our public drinking water via the Safe Drinking Water Act. The law, which was first enacted in 1974, covers water that comes from public sources, such as rivers, lakes, springs and groundwater wells. It does not cover private wells that provide water to fewer than 25 people.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets national standards for drinking water that include maximum legal limits on more than 90 contaminants. The agency also requires water authorities to perform certain tests for contaminants to ensure the standards are achieved. And it dictates how contaminants should be removed.


The Safe Drinking Water Act grants the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to set national health standards for drinking water and to set the legal limits on more than 90 contaminants.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

States can set their own drinking water standards as long as their standards are at least as strict as the EPA’s requirements. The EPA and states can also take enforcement actions against water systems that violate safety standards.

Types of Contaminants

Numerous types of contaminants can threaten drinking water. They include everything from chemicals to pesticides to animal waste to industrial waste injected into the ground. Naturally occurring substances, such as arsenic, radon and fluoride, can also contaminate groundwater.


Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and other liquid waste pour into the world’s water supply. Contaminated water kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.

Source: United Nations

Waterborne pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and parasites, can also contaminate water. Between 2013 and 2014, more than three dozen water-related outbreaks were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These outbreaks resulted in more than 1,000 illnesses, 124 hospitalizations and 13 deaths.

According to the CDC, the leading causes of waterborne disease outbreaks are:

  • Giardia
  • Legionella
  • Norovirus
  • Shigella
  • Campylobacter
  • Copper
  • Salmonella
  • Hepatitis A
  • Cryptosporidium
  • E. coli and excessive fluoride (tie)

These contaminants can lead to severe illness, including gastrointestinal upset, neurological problems and reproductive issues. They are especially dangerous to the very young and very old and to those with compromised immune systems.

In recent years, there have also been reports of pharmaceutical drugs in the water supply. Fortunately, the concentrations of these drugs are extremely low and unlikely to cause any considerable health effects, according to a 2012 study by the World Health Organization.

water-related outbreak stat

Causes of Contamination

Agricultural runoff is one of the biggest sources of water pollution and industrial agricultural operations are some of the worst offenders. Crop production and livestock both generate significant amounts of waste and runoff that can seep into water supplies.

Runoff from agricultural operations can contaminate water with:

  • Animal fecal waste containing bacteria, viruses and other pathogens
  • Antibiotics, hormones, salts and heavy metals excreted by livestock
  • Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides

Water supplies can also be contaminated through the drinking water disinfection process. Water additives, such as chlorine and chloramines, are used to control the growth of microbes. But when levels are too high, they can cause eye and nose irritation, stomach upset and other problems.


Farming consumes about 70 percent of the earth’s surface water and is the leading cause of water degradation.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Water disinfection can also cause the formation of dangerous byproducts, such as bromates, haloacetic acids and trihalomethanes — all of which can increase your risk of cancer. Other byproducts, such as chlorite, can cause anemia and nervous system problems in babies and children.

Even weather can adversely affect water quality. High temperatures and warmer waters can cause harmful algae blooms. Toxic blue-green algae prefer warm, slow-moving water. They’re also triggered by excessive levels of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

Other potential sources of water contamination include:

  • Industrial activities, such as mining and foundries
  • Runoff from soil, air pollution and automobile emissions
  • Malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems, such as septic tanks
  • Leaking underground storage systems and pipes
  • Landfill leakage
  • Sewer overflows
  • Radiation leaks from nuclear power plants

Water that’s not properly treated or that travels through poorly maintained pipes can also pose a health hazard. If your water is acidic, corrosion of copper and lead pipes can occur and contaminate your water.

That’s what happened in Flint, Michigan in 2014 when city officials decided to start using the Flint River as an alternative water source until a new water pipeline from Lake Huron was built. The new water was cheaper than the water Flint had previously been pumping in from Detroit. But it wasn’t treated with an important anti-corrosive agent to deter lead contamination.

Soon, the city’s water turned brown and consumers began complaining that it was causing skin rashes, hair loss and other problems. Because officials failed to treat the corrosive river water, it was leaching lead out of the city’s aging pipes and sending it through thousands of taps. Studies later revealed that local children’s blood-lead levels had doubled or even tripled in some cases.

What Are PFAS Chemicals?

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are also generating a lot of buzz. The manmade chemicals have been used for decades in everything from non-stick pots and pans to stain protectants on carpets, clothing and upholstery. They are also used in firefighting foams.

The hazardous compounds are sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in nature or in the body. They’ve also been linked to a wide variety of health problems, including several types of cancer, birth defects, endocrine and immune system problems, and elevated cholesterol.

While two common PFAS — perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) — have been phased out by United States industry, they are still used internationally and imported into the country.

A recent study by the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute pinpointed PFAS contamination at locations in 43 states, including drinking water sites serving approximately 19 million people.

Military sites were among those most affected by the problem. The chemicals likely contaminated the environment and groundwater on military bases when flame-resistant firefighting foam was used during training and emergency response exercises.

Communities near manufacturing sites have also discovered high levels of PFAS contamination of their water supplies.


In 2016, the EPA issued a non-enforceable lifetime guidance level of 70 parts per trillion for two PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) in drinking water. In Hoosick Falls, New York, some samples detected PFOA levels at 130,000 parts per trillion.

Sources: EPA and Times Union

In 2016, the village of Hoosick Falls, New York discovered high levels of the cancer-causing compounds in its public drinking water supply and private drinking water wells. According to the EPA, a person’s exposure level to PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, in drinking water should not exceed 70 parts per trillion in a lifetime. In Hoosick Falls, some samples detected PFOA levels at 130,000 parts per trillion.

The state of New York has accused two local companies, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International, of causing the pollution. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics was also implicated in a PFOA drinking water contamination near the company’s factory in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Health Complications of Water Contamination

Contaminated water can cause considerable health problems, ranging from gastrointestinal illnesses to neurological problems to cancer. 

In the case of pathogens that cause waterborne disease, the effects are usually noticed rapidly. A person who drinks water containing bacteria or a virus will often develop diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and other acute gastrointestinal symptoms. In severe cases, these symptoms can lead to dehydration and death.

Likewise, ingesting large amounts of copper-contaminated water may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Extremely high amounts can cause liver and kidney damage and even death.

copper contamination stat

But other types of contamination are more insidious. 

Signs and symptoms of lead exposure, for instance, typically won’t appear until dangerous levels have accumulated in a person’s body. The toxic metal can cause lifelong complications. Infants and children exposed to lead may have developmental delays, learning difficulties and behavioral problems.

And the health impacts of PFAS and other contaminants can take years to show up.

Studies suggest that PFAS exposure can lead to:

  • Fertility problems and hormone suppression
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Immune system problems
  • A disruption of endocrine levels
  • An increased risk of certain cancers, including testicular and kidney cancer
  • Birth defects
  • Liver damage
  • An elevated risk of thyroid disease
  • And increased risk of asthma

Protecting Yourself

If you suspect something is wrong with your tap water, contact your public water utility immediately. You may also wish to have your household water tested. The EPA provides a list of certified laboratories.

Red Flags That Your Water May Be ContaminatedIt Looks FunnyYour tap water should always be clear. If it looks cloudy or milky, set it down for a few minutes to see if it clears up. If it does, your water might have just contained trapped air bubbles. If it stays cloudy or foamy, your water could contain elevated levels of heavy minerals or something worse. In that case, it’s time to get your water tested.It Smells StrangeIf your water has an unusual smell, it could be contaminated, but oftentimes contaminants have no smell. A strong rotten egg smell can indicate that your water contains high levels of sulfur. This is usually not dangerous, but it can be unappetizing. Likewise, if your water tastes like a swimming pool, it may contain high levels of chlorine. A water filter may help eliminate excess chlorine and sulfur.It Tastes FunnyOftentimes, contaminants have no taste, but in some cases they might. In Flint, Michigan, residents said the water tasted strange, smelled bad and had a brownish color.

contaminated tap water
Your water may be contaminated if it looks, smells, or tastes funny.

According to a 2017 article in the journal Applied Water Science, most contaminants can’t be easily detected and testing is needed to identify them.

If you have reason to believe your water supply is contaminated, switch to using bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing your teeth and making ice.

In some situations, boiling your water will make it safe to consume. If your water authority issues a boil water advisory, bring your water to a vigorous boil for one minute. This will ensure that all bacteria and other microbes are killed and will make the water safe for drinking, cooking and ice making.

Unfortunately, boiling water won’t get rid of other types of contaminants and may even make the water worse. Boiling water that contains PFAS, for instance, will actually concentrate the chemicals and increase your health risks

On a household basis, there are also a number of things you can do to reduce the pollutionof our water.

You and your family can help keep our water supply safe by abiding by the following do’s and don’ts.

  • DO Catch Runoff. Use gravel, paver stones and other porous materials to stop the flow of stormwater around your home before it pours into storm drains.
  • DO Pick Up After Your Dog. Pet waste is laden with bacteria and can easily contaminate storm drains and water supplies. Pick up poop in a recycled bag and put it in your garbage.
  • DO Maintain Your Car. When your car leaks oil, coolant and other fluids, rainwater takes it right into the groundwater. Keep your car in good condition and also wash it in a commercial car wash. It’s better than discharging polluted water down your driveway.
  • DO Shop with Pollution in Mind. Reducing your use of harmful chemicals can also go a long way. When possible, choose non-toxic cleaners and pesticides and opt for phosphate-free detergents. 
  • DON’T Use the Toilet as a Trash Can. Don’t flush tampons, baby wipes and other non-biodegradable products. Also avoid flushing old prescription medications and take them to a prescription drug drop-off point instead.
  • DON’T Use the Sink as a Trash Can. Never dump paint, oil or other household chemicals down the drain. This also goes for fat, oil and cooking grease. Instead, keep it in a jar under the sink and dispose of the jar in the garbage when it gets full.

Finally, if you see someone pouring oil down a storm drain or dumping waste in a stream, report them to the authorities. You may first want to try contacting your local government, but if that doesn’t work, you can contact your state environmental agency. The EPA also has an online form where you can report environmental violations.

Wastewater Treatment Facility FDEP Consent Orders

Wastewater Treatment Facility FDEP Consent Orders

The consent orders shared here should most certainly be characterized as serious.  Some of the findings could possibly or probably indicate antiquated infrastructure but most of what is included here would suggest either a lack of staffing, or operator competency.  There are just so many failures to report, neglected procedures and what sounds like inadequate general maintenance of the system.  I am quite concerned as a resident of Winter Springs.  

The partially untreated discharge events are always quite serious and would have a profound negative impact on water quality in the watersheds where it was released and perhaps even create a human health hazard for people unaware, recreating in nearby waters.  However, to have several of these and not report them, there would have to be a significant plausible explanation for that to go un-disciplined, if not termination of responsible parties.

I also found myself wondering, maybe more importantly, how did they respond to the order?  There may be circumstantial reasons for the findings, like staff turnover.  However, once the order was issued, one would think getting it right would be prioritized.

Regardless, why have the residents of Winter Springs not be told about this situation? Why does our City use communication as propaganda for re-election instead of shooting straight with residents. Moreover, why are there so many failures and why were they never reported?

Winter Springs Florida Water Quality

Winter Springs Florida Water Quality

Poor water quality has a direct impact on water quantity in a number of ways. Polluted water that cannot be used for drinking, bathing, industry or agriculture effectively reduces the amount of useable water within a given area.

Declining water quality has become a global issue of concern as human populations grow, industrial and agricultural activities expand, and climate change threatens to cause major alterations to the hydrological cycle.

Globally, the most prevalent water quality problem is eutrophication, a result of high-nutrient loads (mainly phosphorus and nitrogen), which substantially impairs beneficial uses of water. Major nutrient sources include agricultural runoff, domestic sewage (also a source of microbial pollution), industrial effluents and atmospheric inputs from fossil fuel burning and bush fires. Lakes and reservoirs are particularly susceptible to the negative impacts of eutrophication because of their complex dynamics, relatively longer water residence times and their role as an integrating sink for pollutants from their drainage basins. Nitrogen concentrations exceeding 5 milligrams per litre of water often indicate pollution from human and animal waste or fertilizer runoff from agricultural areas.

An emerging water quality concern is the impact of personal care products and pharmaceuticals, such as birth control pills, painkillers and antibiotics, on aquatic ecosystems. Little is known about their long-term human or ecosystem impacts, although some are believed to mimic natural hormones in humans and other species.

  1. Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and other effluents drain into the world’s waters.
  2. Every year, more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war
  3. The most significant sources of water pollution are lack of inadequate treatment of human wastes and inadequately managed and treated industrial and agricultural wastes