You could be forgiven for wondering whether Miami tap water is safe to drink, especially because new evidence has emerged that Miami-Dade’s drinking water contains chemicals normally used for fire-extinguishers, and so many people distrust tap water – with good reason!
Miami tap water is safe to drink as it meets EPA state and federal water quality requirements and is regularly tested. However, according to the EWG environmental watchdog, the permitted toxic PFAS chemical levels in Miami’s water are far too high and detrimental to our health.
While it is true that most people have been safely drinking Miami tap water for several decades without any ill effects, your drinking water might not be as safe as you think. So, if you want to know why the safety of Miami water is in question – read on!
Miami Tap Water: What You Should Know
Before we delve into whether Miami tap water is safe to drink, it’s important to understand where it comes from and what the water purification system entails.
Miami-Dade county’s tap water is sourced from groundwater at the Biscayne Aquifer in South Florida and is comprised of absorbent rocks that contain tiny holes or cracks that absorb rainwater.
When water flows in the Aquifer, it evaporates organic minerals and may collect impurities from human and animal activities like farms, power plants, landfills, microplastics, and hazardous waste that may seep into the ground and contaminate water.
Identified drinking water contaminants include lead, nitrates, and bacteria, including chemicals like temik, tetrachlorethylene (PCE), and ethylene dibromide (EDB), which can cause illnesses in some instances.
This groundwater is then pumped towards one of the three Miami Dade Water and Sewer Authority (WASD) treatment plants, where it is disinfected with ammonia and chlorine, filtered, fluoridated, and softened before it is housed in tanks and reservoirs underground.
EPA Standards For Miami Tap Water
Unlike bottled water, which is overseen by the FDA, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
ensures that all public water systems, Miami included, have safe drinking water by regularly testing for contaminates in the water.
While the FDA and EPA have similar benchmarks for safe drinking water, the FDA’s standards are far less stringent concerning the number of times bottled water needs to be tested, and the suppliers don’t have to disclose their test results to the public.
In stark contrast, the EPA ensures that the Miami-Dade WASD analyzes the quality of its water for harmful contaminates over 100 000 times per year in compliance with stringent state and federal regulations to provide safe drinking water for over 2.3 million people in the county.
The WASD publishes water quality reports yearly, so it’s easy to review their test results online, confirming that they adhere to state and federal water quality benchmarks.
Miami Tap Water: PFAS Safety Concerns
While government regulatory bodies may be satisfied with the quality of Miami tap water and deem it safe enough to drink, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit that advocates for consumers, vehemently disagrees.
The EWG have concrete data to prove that harmful traces of PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl chemicals) were present in most public water systems when they conducted tests on water from 44 sites.
PFAS chemicals are used for various commercial and household products like cleaning solutions, non-stick cookware, and fire extinguishers.
Miami’s tested drinking water contained the third highest PFAS levels in the nation, and its levels were far higher close to the Miami International Airport, including the Biscayne Bay area and its tributaries.
Even though Miami-Dade county’s water contains PFAS chemical levels that are deemed to be within an acceptable range by federal authorities, the EWG believe that they are potentially damaging to human health.
According to the EWG, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has known about the presence of toxic PFAS in drinking water for numerous years and has not tried to curb the amount of PFAS released into local water supplies.
The EPA has only provided guidelines concerning the acceptable amount of PFAS in drinking water, which should not exceed 70 parts of PFAS contaminants per trillion, and Miami, with its’ 57 parts per trillion, is well within the EPA’s limit.
However, EWG’s research findings concluded that only one PFAS part per trillion is safe to consume as the toxic chemical has been linked to thyroid diseases and various forms of cancer, especially because it is bio-accumulative, or “forever chemicals” that remain within the human body.
These concerns are underscored by Professor Rainer Lohmann from the University of Rhode Island, who has studied the link between PFAS and local water supplies and now believes that the federal stipulations for the permitted levels of PFAS are far too high and place consumers at severe risk.
According to Lohmann, states like Florida should start to acknowledge that PFAS and other highly toxic drinking water contaminants are unacceptable and that they can no longer ignore the issue.
Why Miami Tap Water May Be Toxic
So, as the US EPA deems Miami tap water safe to drink and environmental watch bodies dispute their claims, whom should we believe?
The answer to that question has become more relevant than ever as a recent alarming Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Authority annual report found a concentration of up to 10ppt toxic Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) chemicals in the South Dade and main water system.
However, according to the EPA, the PFOA threshold should be a maximum amount of 0.004 ppt, which is frightening as Miami-Dade tap water has proven to contain a lot more toxic chemicals than it should for safe drinking water.
While Miami tap water has been deemed safe to drink by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is tested far more vigorously than bottled water, it is a hotly contested issue!
The alarming presence of high levels of toxic chemicals like Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl in Miami-Dade’s drinking water requires urgent further scrutiny, especially because the true safety of Miami tap water is in the spotlight.