Posted on | December 20, 2009 | 2 Comments
One of the recurrent themes in today’s round-up of the news highlights of the week carries troubling contradictions. Two reporters who do exemplary jobs covering their local water beats, Staci Matlock of the Santa Fe New Mexican and Janet Zimmerman of the Riverside Press-Enterprise, quote local water managers saying that their water quality tests do not jibe with the ratings reported on December 12th by the Environmental Working Group, which were then later widely broadcast by the news media.
In the case of Riverside, the water authority contends that the group ranked the city based on tests of untreated groundwater. Santa Fe is still investigating what its water department sees as a discrepancy. Once shot out of a cannon into the press, even subjects as important as municipal water quality rarely get the follow-up that they deserve. This post-script to The week that was, 12/13-19/2009 is to urge newspapers that reported the Environmental Working Group assessment unquestioningly, or that just as uncritically accept their water authority’s figures, to cross-check the data behind their local rankings. Then, whether the news is good or bad, proceed to make sure that the water quality information reported for your city is accurate.
In the case of Santa Fe and Riverside, all we know now is that it’s clear as mud.
UPDATE: On December 20th, the Los Angeles Daily News joined the Riverside Press-Enterprise and Santa Fe New Mexican carrying utility responses questioning the accuracy of the Working Group’s results. Here is the link to that story, along with the response of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. An earlier report from December 12th in the Los Angeles Times also carries responses from Riverside utilities saying that the water sampled by the Working Group was “raw,” meaning untreated.
This post has been updated. The headline was edited the day of publication and additional links were added on 12/27/2009