Contaminants of Emerging Concern Workgroup

Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership

Potomac DWSPP’s Contaminants of Emerging Concern Workgroup supports the Partnership by tracking and reporting on findings of research and occurrence of persistent and newly identified threats posed to the Potomac River drinking water supply. Members of the workgroup also advocate and support related national-level studies with the goal of providing sound science on how this emerging challenge should be addressed.

Partnership Activities

On October 12, 2021, DWSPP held a seminar on microplastics in the Potomac River Basin from a source water protection perspective with a focus on drinking water. The seminar was organized by the Microplastics subcommittee of the Contaminants of Emerging Concern Workgroup.


Other Activities:

Workgroup Objectives

  • Identify contaminants of emerging concerns (CECs) that occur (or have a reasonable potential to occur) in the Potomac River basin. Track research on detection methods, surrogate indicators, and occurrence.
  • Identify potential sources of identified CECs.
  • Identify patterns of contaminant occurrence, distribution and persistence, especially downstream of identified point sources.
  • Compile information on human and ecological/environmental health effects, and epidemiological/toxicological studies to understand health significance and relative risks posed by CECs in drinking water.
  • Identify control measures and best management practices to reduce or minimize occurrence of CECs in the Potomac River and its tributaries.
  • Inform Partnership members and stakeholders on relative risks of CECs to drinking water quality and on control measures and best management practices.
  • Track data reported from the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 4 (UCMR4), and evaluate patterns of contaminant detection in the Potomac River Basin.
  • Track legislative and regulatory actions regarding CECs.

Related Activities

Congressional testimony in 2006 by ICPRB, Fairfax Water, Washington Aqueduct, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Following a front-page story in the Washington Post on September 6, 2006, reporting on findings of intersex fish in the Potomac River and its upper tributaries, the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee held an oversight hearing on October 4, 2006.

Congressional testimony in 2008 by U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Following a series of articles from the Associated Press beginning on March 10, 2008, reporting on detection of drugs in the source water supplies of many cities, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality held an oversight hearing on April 15, 2008.

 U.S. Geological Survey is continuing its research on contaminant occurrence and intersex fish in the Potomac River: