No confidence in the Consumer Confidence Report

Reader writes

I just received a 16-page Consumer Confidence Report from Pine Bluff Water Authority. The criticism I’m about to make is not with the Pine Bluff Water Authority, but with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who requires water utilities across the U.S. to send their customers this report each year.

Of course I am pleased to get a report of my water quality and to know there are no contaminants to make my water unsafe, but this “report” is a prime example of government bureaucracy. “red tape”, and overkill.

The average reader will be extremely hard-pressed to find an easy-to-read, clear statement, in bold print concerning the purity and safety of our water. Instead, there are pages of technical verbiage and definitions and spreadsheets with tiny print that only one person in a hundred will take a magnifying glass to read. Even then the average person will not interpret the context of the tables of fine print.

In the Q&A section, it says: “This report is free of charge to all customers and stakeholders of PBWA.” That may be so, but I estimate there’s at least 100 man-hours involved in the preparation and printing of the report, plus postage to mail it to the thousands of customers. So it was not free.

This report was mandated by the EPA, so PBWA had no choice in the matter. But please, in the future, print “Our water is safe and free of contaminants” in bold print as the lead sentence under the ‘Commitment’ topic! I know it says “as in years past, PBWA met all state and federal regulations for water quality.” But it’s in small print and it’s lost in the other junk. It was only after I dug through the entire report and started over before I discovered that innocuous little phrase.

Brice Marsh
Birmingham