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State Honoree

Linda Arnade

Florida

discovered that septic tanks in her community were causing groundwater contamination after testing more than 400 residential wells, and then launched an education and monitoring program to alert the public to this important health and environmental risk. Linda’s effort began in 1997 when she saw a newspaper article on the threat that septic tanks pose to drinking water. Shocked by the thought that she could be drinking contaminated water, Linda set out to determine if the problem was real. “Over 70,000 people in my community rely on drinking-water wells and septic tanks,” she said, “and I knew that if people were consuming contaminated groundwater this may lead to illness or even death.” She researched the issue and then recruited volunteers to help her obtain well-water samples, which showed that wells in close proximity to septic tanks did, indeed, contain high levels of bacteria and other contaminants. Linda’s findings were presented to government officials – who have now begun to implement stricter regulations on wells and septic tanks – and were published in a scientific journal. In addition, she delivered presentations to national environmental associations and other groups, produced educational literature, and taught children about the problem at a summer science camp. Linda also helped organize an ongoing water-monitoring program to guard against future contamination.