Health Requirements

Unregulated Contaminants

The Lowell Regional Water Utility participated in a major drinking water quality testing program in 1998 called the Information Collection Rule (ICR). One of the contaminants we tested for is the parasite Cryptosporidium which has caused outbreaks of intestinal disease in the U.S. and overseas. Cryptosporidium is the only contaminant for which source water monitoring results must be reported. It is common in surface water, very hard to kill, and even a well-run water system will contain some live parasites.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to resolve several scientific issues that will allow it to set Cryptosporidium safety standards. Our testing, performed quarterly in 1998 on the river water, revealed the presence of Cryptosporidium, but no precaution about our drinking water is currently needed for the general public, since Cryptosporidium was not found in the finished treated drinking water that goes to your tap!

Required Educational Information

Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contamination. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population.

Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.

In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, EPA prescribes regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. FDA regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water that must provide the same protection for public health. Contact the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791, for more information about contaminants, potential health effects, and EPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants.

Water Contaminants


Fluoride was added to prevent tooth decay and cavities.


Perchlorate interferes with the normal function of the thyroid gland and thus has the potential to affect growth and development, causing brain damage and other adverse effects, particularly in fetuses and infants. Pregnant women, the fetus, infants, children up to the age of 12, and people with a hypothyroid condition are particularly susceptible to perchlorate toxicity.


"Infants and young children are typically more vulnerable to lead in drinking water than the general population. It is possible that lead levels at your home may be higher than at other homes in the community as a result of materials used in your home's plumbing. If you are concerned about elevated lead levels in your home's water, you may wish to have your water tested. Flush your tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using tap water to reduce lead content. Additional information is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline, 800-426-4791 or the EPA website.

Source Water
Contaminants that may be present in source water include the following:

  • Microbial contaminants: such as viruses and bacteria, may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, and wildlife.
  • Inorganic contaminants: such as salts and metals, can be naturally-occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff, industrial, or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming.
  • Pesticides and herbicides: may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and residential uses.
  • Organic chemical contaminants: include synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff and septic systems.
  • Radioactive contaminants: can be naturally-occurring or be the result of oil and gas production and mining activities.

As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity. The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include:

  • lakes
  • ponds
  • reservoirs
  • rivers
  • springs
  • streams
  • wells