After year of tests, Anne Arundel's water declared safe to drink; 12,000 samples taken for report required by federal regulations


It's safe to drink the county's water, according to a report released yesterday by the Anne Arundel Department of Public Works.

About 12,000 samples taken from public water sources throughout the county last year were analyzed. The report is the first of what the county says will be annual pronouncements on water quality called for in a 1996 amendment to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The report says most areas showed none or little of the substances regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Glen Burnie and Pasadena showed high one-time readings of radioactive contaminants. Those readings were taken during the summer of 1998, when elevated radium levels were discovered in some wells between Millersville and Pasadena.

Radium is a mineral that occurs as a result of decaying natural deposits. Longtime exposure can cause bone cancer.

Although the levels were higher than normal, they met the standard for safe drinking water, the report said. When the county discovered the radium, it took four wells along Phillips Drive and Quarterfield Road out of service as a precaution and provided bottled water and additional treatment for the wells serving Chesapeake High, Chesapeake Bay Middle, and Bodkin, Lake Shore and Millersville Elementary schools.

A high level of fluoride also was discovered during one monitoring period in water supplied through Baltimore's municipal system, according to the report. The city had a surge of fluoride for one hour on Nov. 27 that contributed to the problem, the report said. Fluoride has adverse health effects only after longtime exposure, the report said.

"What this report means is that we're providing safe and a reliable source of water for our customers," said John Morris, a public works spokesman.

"We've long collected this information. The reason we're putting the report out now is because Congress and the president decided people needed the detailed information that we submit to the EPA and Maryland Department of the Environment," he said.

Customers who are billed for their water will receive copies of the report in the mail within three to four weeks, Morris said. Other customers, such as apartment dwellers who are not billed individually, can review the report at public libraries, request copies though their County Council representative or call the Department of Public Works at 410-222-7582.

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