noted Lynn Goldman, professor, Bloomberg School of Public Health, but we have reached the point where it is no longer feasible; yet we have built a large infrastructure to support this method of water usage. The question remains whether the approaches we are using (multiple uses of water, including waste disposal) are feasible as we face a growth in population and increased consumption per capita.

One of the workshop participants, noted that part of the paradigm shift would be the integration of individuals across disciplines and agencies and suggested that taking an issue such as pathogens or drinking water source protection as a focal point and bringing together the agencies, disciplines, and regulations to address the issue as a whole instead of piecemeal, would be a starting point. Kenneth Reckhow further suggested that two strategies for providing safe drinking water involve treatment and watershed protection. He noted that it is conceivable that we will not have to identify all of the chemicals and pathogens in waters, as membrane or activated carbon might effectively remove them. One problem is that drinking water comes from various sources, including individual household wells. He noted that appropriate treatment at a household level may be problematic.

Susan Seacrest agreed that any paradigm will not be a product of “one-stop shopping.” It isn’t realistic to wait for any one agency to address all aspects of water safety. Cynthia Dougherty, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), noted that some of the work will have to be undertaken at the national level—for example, the establishment of national criteria for pathogens—while other approaches will occur at the state and local levels such as land-use policies and identifying which surface waters also are drinking water sources. Seacreast agreed and noted there is a role for everyone, with important roles for everyone to play. She reiterated that it is important to identify various roles, and various tools, and to reinforce a sense of responsibility about our drinking water. Public health officials from the local to the national level have to be continually engaged, noted many panelists, and we need to find ways of including them.

WATER AS A COMMODITY

As a starting point, some panelists reinforced the idea that the monetary value of water is a very important issue that is often underestimated. Wastewater treatment is costly, especially with regard to reclaiming wa-



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement