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California may become the first state to limit the amount of chromium VI in drinking water. The proposed safe level of the carcinogen would be .06 parts per billion. As LEO reports, Louisville does not meet that standard, even though the water will soon be in line with new federal regulations.

Louisville ranks 22nd out of 25 communities whose drinking water contains unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium, aka chromium VI (aka a major plot element in “Erin Brockovich“).

Today marks the release of a new study conducted by The Environmental Working Group (EWG), marking the first time such a study involving tap water contamination of chromium six has been made public.



I spend most of my time as a journalist finding things out. Sometimes, there are things I don’t entirely understand, and I have to do more research than I expected.

Sometimes, though, I am given more information than my schedule and brain can handle. That’s what happened when I asked how the new water filtration system in eastern Jefferson County works. I knew it involved water passing through the walls of a tunnel. I have been inside of the tunnel (which is now full of water). I like science, and I’ve written about science and engineering before. But when I asked Louisville Water Company program manager Kay Ball how the system works, I was hit with this intricate explanation (mp3).

Ball was very nice and she explained the system again (and again, and again) to me through her responses to follow-up questions. Here is the resulting story.

Algae blooms in the Ohio River are giving Louisville water and odd taste and smell.

The precise chemical responsible for this is 2-methylisoborneol, which is also behind cork rot in wine. It’s safe to drink, if you don’t mind the flavor and odor.

What isn’t safe to drink is the algae in some Ohio lakes. The Ohio River Radio Consortium has more on toxic algae.

Louisville’s tap water (branded Louisville Pure Tap) won a regional taste test in Nashville recently. The city’s water will advance to a national competition next year.

Some hydration history from Business First:

Louisville’s tap water, which Louisville Water Co. has branded Louisville Pure Tap, won the national award in 2008. The city’s water quality also was recognized by the Partnership for Safe Water, an organization developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other water organizations.

How does one become a water taste tester?

So Harley-Davidson isn’t coming to Shelbyville. Maybe it never even planned to relocate and used Shelby County as a bargaining chip with the union. Perhaps.

Jake says Governor Beshear is spinning the rejection; saying the relocation that never was helped the county. He makes a point and he might be right, but Shelbyville isn’t at a total loss. They did get a new water pipe extended to the county line. Of course, there’s no money in the county budget to connect to Jefferson County’s end of the pipe yet.

I wonder what will happen to the project. I assume that development will eventually approach the pipe from both sides and warrant an extension, but with the economy the way it is, that seems a long way off.

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