Berkey system users have been asking Watermatters about the current debacle between Berkey and the EPA. Here is our perspective.
Berkey was issued a Stop Sale Order by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency USA) in December 2023 due to Berkey’s unregistered use of silver in Black Berkey elements, and because of Berkey’s labelling and contaminant reduction claims.
The EPA classifies silver as a pesticide. Understandably, Berkey does not want its products associated with pesticides. Berkey is currently involved in a high-profile legal challenge with the EPA. Berkey products are now in short supply with no certainty about if or when production will resume.
At Watermatters, we are not fans of 3-letter government agencies such as the EPA. However, we are also not sympathetic with Berkey’s dilemma, which includes other legal challenges that have been eclipsed by the fanfare about the EPA Stop Sale/Pesticide issue. Jim Shepherd, the owner of Berkey, has emerged from concealment to portray Berkey as a victim …an all-too-common tactic that is deflecting attention away from Berkey’s real shortcomings.
Jim Shepherd, who resides in Colorado, has been perennially inaccessible, apparently even to all but his most senior staff. Over the dozen years that Watermatters sold Berkey products, we were never able to contact him directly to discuss critical quality control issues. His staff always referred to him as ‘the owner’ and never disclosed his name.
Ironically, Jim Shepherd’s voice is now all over the internet. He is doing interviews about the Berkey/EPA issue with numerous sympathetic talk show hosts. We find it odd but characteristic that he has yet to show his face in these video interviews.
Berkey makes a big deal about inferior, look-alike, or ‘counterfeit’ filter elements that are sold online for use in Berkey systems. Meanwhile Berkey neglects to mention that test results for Berkey elements are now 9 years out of date and fail to include the number of gallons of use for which Berkey’s contaminant reduction claims are maintained before protection diminishes. This failure point varies for each contaminant. Berkey’s claim of a 3000 gallon service life for their Black Berkey elements is irresponsible.
Watermatters terminated doing business with Berkey in early 2023 because Berkey was increasingly frequently supplying Black Berkey elements that turned clear tap water into undrinkable murk. See photos below.
Watermatters now sells Coldstream’s FTO Plus ceramic gravity filters that fit in all sizes of Berkey systems. Coldstream filters are made in the UK, have extensive contemporary test results from accredited labs which include the number of gallons for which you can expect the filter to maintain the rate of reduction for each of hundreds of contaminants.
Cloudy water produced by running clear water through Black Berkey elements that have already processed 12 tankfuls of water.
Distilled water before (R) and after (L) being passed through Black Berkey elements. Four loads of water had already been flushed through the Berkey filters.
Chalky residue produced from Black Berkey elements in bottom Berkey chamber.
Watermatters now supplies Coldstream FTO Plus ceramic gravity filters which fit in existing Berkey systems. These replacement filters are also fluoride reduction filters. They do the work of both the Black Berkey elements and Berkey's PF-2 fluoride elements, combined in a single filter.