The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

March 11, 2008

<img src="http://www.joplinglobeonline.com/images/zope/extra.gif" border=0>Pharmaceuticals found in area streams, creeks<font color="#ff0000"> w/ USGS water quality reports</font>

By Wally Kennedy

wkennedy@joplinglobe.com

Finding pharmaceuticals in local rivers and creeks, including the upper reaches of Shoal Creek, is nothing new in Southwest Missouri. Research conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey found drugs in Joplin’s watershed in 1999.

But a decade later, no one can say whether the drugs have found their way into Joplin’s drinking water. Missouri American Water Co. tests for a number of contaminants, but it does not test for pharmaceuticals. It is not required to do so by federal regulations.

That required testing could be in the works. Two U.S. senators, Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., plan to conduct hearings in response to a five-month investigation by The Associated Press into the presence of trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in the drinking-water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.

Also, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a national task force to investigate the issue and make recommendations to Congress.

The AP found that drugs have been detected in the drinking-water systems of 24 metropolitan areas across the nation. It also found that many of the watersheds providing water to those systems are contaminated. Tests were conducted in the watersheds of 35 of the 62 water providers surveyed by the AP. Pharmaceuticals were detected in 28 watersheds.

Antibiotics found

John Schumacher, with the USGS, tested water samples from several creeks in Southwest Missouri for pharmaceuticals beginning in 1999. Sites included Clear Creek near Pierce City, and the upper and lower portions of Shoal Creek. Other testing involved Indian Creek, near Lanagan, and Elk River, near Tiff City.

Shoal Creek is the primary source of drinking water for the 55,000 customers of Missouri American Water Co. in Joplin and Galena, Kan. The creek also provides water to Neosho.

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