Expert questions safety of Columbia's water quality

10 months 3 days 14 hours ago Tuesday, February 07 2017 Feb 7, 2017 Tuesday, February 07, 2017 10:21:00 PM CST February 07, 2017 in News
By: Madeline McClain, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - The Columbia Water and Light Advisory Board is meeting tomorrow to discuss the city's water quality.

One of the agenda items is to discuss a report by an expert who says Columbia's water is not okay. Robert Bowcock, an engineer with Integrated Resource Management has been investigating the City's water since 2015.

"I believe that the city's drinking water supply is not only directly influenced by the surface water from the Missouri River but it is also being impacted by the wastewater lagoon directly adjacent to the ground water well," he said. "Meaning the wastewater in Columbia is actually produced by the ground water wells and you're really drinking your waste water at a pretty rapid rate."

Bowcock works with Erin Brockovich who became famous for her work on a water contamination case in Hinkley, California in 1993. The successful lawsuit became the subject of a Julia Robert's film in 2000.

In September 2015, Brockovich called Columbia Water and Light "lazy" and "cheap" in a Facebook post following the city's announcement it would switch from the chloramine (chlorine plus ammonia) to the chlorine disinfection process. She sent Bowcock to check out the community's water.

He toured the city's facilities in November 2016 and submitted his findings to the city in early January of this year. Columbia Water and Light Spokesperson, Connie Kacprowicz, said Columbia meets all state standards but Bowcock said the City should be following a different set of rules. His report recommends, among others things, for the city to acknowledge it is a surface water system and not a ground water system.

"It's definitely not safe and the reason is because if you are under the influence of surface water or you are under the influence of waste water perculation, you're required to employ a whole separate and distinct, different set of treatment techniques," Bowcock said. 

Julie Ryan and Marie Brown, co-founders of the COMO Safe Water Coalition, have been communicating with him about the report. Brown and Ryan said Bowcock's findings cause major health concerns.

 

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