What is the Water Quality in Burlington, Vermont?
Compared to other US cities, Burlington water quality ranks in the lower range for contamination excluding Lead.
Most of their 15 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes.
- Chloroform is at extremely high levels: 110x health guidelines.
Let’s look closer at what’s in Burlington water.
What’s in Burlington water?
Here are the top 5 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Bromodichloromethane – Potential effect: Cancer
- Chloroform – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5) – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids (HAA9) – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are five of the 15 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
7 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
Does Burlington have Lead contamination?
Yes, Burlington has lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected from 2016 through 2018 showed concentrations up to 2.7 parts per billion.
The legal limit for lead is 15 parts per billion. Being well-below this level is a good thing.
- Concentrations between 3.8 ppb and 15 ppb put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. Read more about the symptoms of Lead in water.
There is no safe level of lead for humans.
- The good news is that 99.99% of the lead can be filtered out.
See the What Can You Do? section below to learn how to filter out contaminants.
Where does Burlington’s water come from?
Burlington’s water comes from the Lake Champlain watershed.
19 of the 21 EPA assessed water sources in the Lake Champlain watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- Burlington Bay
- Cumberland Bay
- Isle La Motte
- Lake Champlain
- Main Lake
- Otter Creek
- Salmon River, Lower and tributaries
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition.
- The lower Ausable River and its minor tributaries are in Good condition.
- Some minor tributaries feeding into Lake Champlain are in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Burlington’s water.
Conclusion – What Can You Do?
Information about water quality in Burlington can be surprising.
But there’s no reason to lose hope. There are things you can do in your home as well as things you can do at a community level.
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out at least 80% of the contaminants in your drinking water.
- To filter out 13 of the 15 contaminants (87%), consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but are much more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- Bromodichloromethane – health risks in drinking water
- Chloroform – side effects
- Dichloroacetic acid
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5 and HAA9) – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Monochloroacetic acid
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
- Trichloroacetic acid
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.