Washington Ranks High on List of States with Safe Drinking Water Violations

Robyn Ryan
May 4, 2017

In fact, "Threats on Tap: Widespread Violations Highlight Need for Investment in Water Infrastructure and Protections" reports that almost 77 million people - roughly a quarter of the US population - spread across all 50 states were served by water systems reporting violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015. But just 58 are considered "health-based" violations, such as exceeding maximum contaminant levels and failure to comply with treatment techniques.

"Our review of EPA data found that almost 77 million Americans are served community water systems that have violations".

Drinking water officials countered that the NRDC was using a database that had many flaws, and that violations don't necessarily mean sampling didn't occur.

Smaller water systems are often not financially or technologically equipped to upgrade aging infrastructure unable to filter out contaminants. Of these, 12,000 violations created potential health hazards.

And President Donald Trump's new budget proposal could further limit the EPA's ability to enforce safe water rules, as it recommends a 30% cut to the agency's programs, reported ABC News on May 2.

"Water systems, on occasion, have been known to not test their water because they suspect there is a problem", Olson said. "Proposed and severe spending cuts to the EPA would exacerbate the health threats faced by millions of Americans", said Jamie Consquegra, legislative director for NRDC's Climate and Clean Air Program.

Arizona ranked among the five worst states for water systems with violations in three categories, including arsenic, radioactive material and carbon-based pollutants.

Health-based violations were most frequently triggered by chemical byproducts of disinfection treatments that are linked to cancer, or the failure to properly treat surface and groundwater to remove unsafe pathogens. 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.

Misael Cabrera, the director of ADEQ, says 98.4 percent of the population is drinking water that meets health standards.

Improve water infrastructure and modernize drinking water treatment plants.

Given the push from the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress to eliminate regulations and cut non-defense spending, the wish list is unlikely to gain traction.

According to the authors of the report, "There are untold numbers of unregulated contaminants in drinking water that pose health risks". Environmental and health advocacy groups have long argued that not only does the EPA fall short of enforcing existing regulations, they say the agency needs to write additional regulations for new toxic chemicals, metals and bacteria.

It appears clear the federal government won't be stepping up to fill the funding gap anytime soon, even after the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, shined a national spotlight on drinking water concerns.

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