Statement Of John Neff
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
Iowa City, Iowa
April 15, 2003
I would like to address the fact that our surface water is unsafe to drink. Many of the shallow wells have water that is unsafe to drink. This is a direct threat to the urban poor because the only way they can get safe drinking water is to put in a really deep well, and many of them cannot afford to do so. Some of these people have literally poisoned by their own wells by cleaning out their herbicide and pesticide tanks right by the wells. The other issue is agricultural chemicals, but it is not just agricultural chemicals, it includes industrial chemicals and chemicals associated with large urban areas that are attached to the soil and become concentrated on the bottoms of rivers, ponds, lakes and reservoirs. This, it appears, would seem to be a potential threat because the (chemical residue) is covered up and, thus, hidden out of sight in lakes and reservoirs, sometimes in extremely high concentrations. I do not think it is true that something out of sight or reach it is not a threat. One of the immediate threats is dredged soil. Basically, they go in and suck the stuff up and bring it up to the surface where it is potentially hazardous. The other immediate threat is the development of farmland into urban areas. Basically, when a developer takes over a farmstead, they just go in and completely rip off all the soil and re-do the landscape and put in new water courses and essentially bring all that toxic stuff to the surface where it goes back into the environment. My concern is that this is a threat, and I have not seen any evidence that anybody has taken the trouble to evaluate this threat or planned for dealing with it. Thank you.