Published: Thu, May 04, 2017
Markets | By Lucia Cruz

Millions of Americans served by untested or contaminated water systems

Millions of Americans served by untested or contaminated water systems

Almost 4.5 million people in New Jersey - or about half the state's population - were served by a community water system that registered a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to a report released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council. But just 58 are considered "health-based" violations, such as exceeding maximum contaminant levels and failure to comply with treatment techniques.

The authors analyzed data provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showing approximately 12,000 health-based violations affecting about 5,000 community water-distribution systems serving some 27 million people.

"Overall, the EPA has established primary drinking water regulations for about 100 of the many thousands of known or anticipated contaminants that appear in tap water", said the report.

"If we find a problem, we're going to fix it and the excuse of whether it was a small system or a big system really is not relevant at that point".

Crockett welcomed the NRDC's efforts to highlight the challenges to drinking water quality but said its presentation of data failed to distinguish between genuine violations of water quality, and administrative errors by companies doing the testing. More than 200 people working on water quality programs at the EPA would lose their jobs. Lead and copper rounded out the top 5 health concern violations.

Olson said that even among the health violations, eight in 10 faced no formal enforcement action and few water systems faced penalties.

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The odds are 50/50 that in 2015 the drinking water in your home flowed from a system that violated a federal law created to protect public drinking supplies. The five water systems with the most health violations were Texas, Puerto Rico, Ohio, Maryland, and Kentucky.

The agency's analysis found that 18,000 municipal water systems across the United States were cited for at least one violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015.

Misael Cabrera, the director of ADEQ, says 98.4 percent of the population is drinking water that meets health standards. If the Regulatory Accountability Act passes the Senate and becomes law, it will favor industry interests and exacerbate the downward spiral of America's water infrastructure system.

The council's 26-page report says a combination of a deteriorating infrastructure and lax enforcement by both federal and state regulators leaves several communities vulnerable to consuming water teeming with various contaminants. Health-based violations involve instances where a contaminant is found in a water supply beyond what is allowed under federal health and safety standards.

Strengthen existing regulations and establish new ones.

That problem figures to get worse as Trump has called for drastic cuts to the EPA. "Administrator Pruitt is committed to helping modernize our country's outdated water infrastructure in order to ensure we maintain safe drinking water for the more than 300 million people that depend on it daily".

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