For Immediate Release
Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals, Risk to Human Health and Wildlife Survival, Are Polluting Lake Mead
LAS VEGAS - The Center for Biological Diversity submitted condemning evidence
to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection today demonstrating
that Lake Mead, Las Vegas Bay, and Las Vegas Wash are being polluted by
unregulated endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The Center is requesting
that the state include these waterbodies on Nevada's list of impaired
waters pursuant to section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act and establish
and enforce limitations.
Endocrine disruptors are
chemicals that alter the structure or function of the endocrine system,
which uses hormones to regulate growth, metabolism, and tissue
function. They have been shown to damage reproductive functions and
offspring in animals such as birds and alligators, as well as in humans
and their babies. Endocrine disruptors are entering Lake Mead's water
at costly concentrations via wastewater effluent and urban and
Lake Mead is the largest
reservoir in the United States, part of a beloved national recreation
area, and the sole source of Las Vegas' drinking water. It is also
federally designated critical habitat for the razorback sucker and home to many other rare species. Unfortunately those vital waters are now being poisoned by endocrine disruptors.
is the most precious commodity a desert community can possess, and it
is well past time that the Las Vegas Valley stopped fouling its source
of drinking water," said Rob Mrowka, the Center's conservation advocate
in Nevada. "The toxic soup flowing into Lake Mead is growing
particularly serious as the effects of climate change diminish the flow
of water into the lake, lowering reservoir levels and concentrating the
The highest concentrations of
endocrine disruptors are found in Las Vegas Wash and Las Vegas Bay.
This area is known spawning habitat for the razorback sucker and is a
scant six miles upstream from the uptake structures for Las Vegas'
drinking water. Monitoring of these waterbodies has detected a variety
of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including organochlorine compounds,
dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other endocrine
disruptors born from pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and personal-care
The purpose of the Clean Water Act is to
restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity
of our nation's waters. The EPA has delegated authority to the state to
carry out the Act's regulatory implementation and enforcement. This
means the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection must establish
water-quality standards that take into account the beneficial uses of
the waterbodies. Section 303(d) of the Act requires it to develop a
list of waterbodies, commonly known as a 303(d) list, needing
additional work beyond existing controls to achieve or maintain
Numerous studies on Lake
Mead water quality, sediment, and fish and wildlife indicate that the
waterbodies are being impaired by endocrine disrupting pollution. With
Lake Mead at a historic low, the state has a heightened duty to protect
the water both for drinking and for the health of fish and wildlife.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.