WACO (January 25, 2013)—Three area cities have received a share of the $105 million settlement in May 2012 of a class action lawsuit filed over water supply contamination from atrazine, the most widely used herbicide in the U.S.
Corsicana has received a $357,856 share of the settlement, the City of Marlin has received $78,205 and the City of Waco received $40,000.
In all nearly 1,085 cities and towns across the country filed settlement claims as part of the suit, and settlement amounts were determined based on the levels of atrazine in the water, how often it was found, how long ago it was found and the size of the population the water supply serves.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, atrazine was also detected in water supplies in the Aquilla Water Supply District, Cameron and in Granger Lake in Williamson County.
It’s not clear if the owners of those supplies were also included in the settlement.
The judge in the case ruled that it’s up to water providers and local governments to determine how the settlement funds are used.
An estimated 80 million gallons of the weed killer is sprayed on corn and other row crops annually and much of it runs off into streams and rivers affecting drinking water supplies in communities such as Marlin, attorneys said.
“The scope of this settlement is enormous,” said lead attorney Stephen M. Tillery.
“The settlement funds will be used to protect the health of millions of people across the country,” he said.
In 2003, under the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency allowed atrazine to continue to be used with few restrictions.
But in 2009 the EPA said it would take another look at the science on atrazine and decide whether further restrictions are needed to protect human health after new studies showed that even at low levels atrazine in drinking water can cause low birth weights, birth defects and reproductive problems.
The information gathered will be used this year in a registration review of the herbicide, according to the EPA’s website.