Drinking water safe in the Tri-Cities

Drinking water safe in the Tri-Cities
TRI-CITIES -- When you turn on the tap, you assume what comes out is safe to drink. That might be asking too much.

A new study rattled a lot of people when it said hundreds of water systems in major cities were well over the limit on chemicals.

"We have to take other steps to...you know water softeners and purification. Things for the drinking water and stuff like that." Brian Paxton has always been skeptical of water directly from the faucet. "You kinda have to do that to get good water in my opinion around here."

A report by the Environmental Working Group made headlines this week when it tested the water supply in hundreds of cities around the country. It found the same chemicals to keep water clean -- could end up hurting you in large doses over time.

It's the kind of report that would prompt you to log on and look up the safety of your own drinking water.

The EWG doesn't have updated data for our cities past 2007. So what it does show is illegal levels of nitrites, nitrates and a chemical called manganese in West Richland's water around 2006.

The EPA says long-term exposure to Manganese can be fatal.

It's not clear if the issue was corrected since the data stops. So I went straight to West Richland to find out.

Public Works Director Roscoe Slade tells me the figures you'd find online are outdated. They covered a well that's no longer used.

He assured me that "The drinking water in West Richland is safe and meets all the state and federal water quality standards."

Current samples from the state Department of Health show no illegal levels of pollutants, giving the city a clean bill of health, despite what you might find online. The most current data on the quality of your drinking water is from the Department of Health.

Everything in the Tri-Cities is within the legal limits. If you’d like to check yourself, visit www.doh.wa.gov.