Too much contamination in America’s tap water, not enough reporting, study finds
Too much contamination in America’s tap water, not enough reporting, study finds.
In 2015, nearly 77 million Americans lived in places where the water systems were in some violation of safety regulations, including the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, according to the report released on Tuesday from the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental advocacy group.
It’s not only that some tap water has high levels of lead, nitrates, arsenic or other pollutants, said Mae Wu, a senior attorney with the council’s health program.
It is that too often, a lack of reporting means residents cannot be sure whether their drinking water is contaminated or not.
The issue is not new; tap water safety violations across the United States have been reported again and again and again.
These include the story of a sinkhole outside Tampa, Fla., which opened up in September, leaking contaminated water and endangering a major aquifer; Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection took weeks to notify nearby residents.
“This has been tolerated so long, and it is so ingrained in the EPA culture to look the other way,” he said.
“They’re going to need outside pressure to act and enforce existing laws.” The council’s report found that there were around 80,000 reported violations of drinking water safety regulations in 2015.
She added that part of the difficulty in fixing these problems comes down to a complicated regulatory system, in which the responsibility to monitor adherence to federal laws falls largely to states.
He said water safety regulation and infrastructure maintenance are basic needs that have been neglected by officials — and poor Americans are suffering the most.