Millions consumed potentially unsafe drinking water in the past 10 years

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. a “D” grade for the quality of its drinking water systems based on an evaluation of their safety, condition, capacity, and other criteria.

This report is part of a project on drinking water contamination in the United States produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program.

WOLFFORTH, Texas – As many as 63 million people – nearly a fifth of the country – from rural central California to the boroughs of New York City, were exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade, according to a News21 investigation of 680,000 water quality and monitoring violations from the Environmental Protection Agency. The findings highlight how six decades of industrial dumping, farming pollution, and water plant and distribution pipe deterioration have taken a toll on local water systems.

Those found to have problems cleaning their water typically took more than two years to fix these issues, with some only recently resolving decades-old violations of EPA standards and others still delivering tainted water, according to data from the agency’s Safe Drinking Water Information System. Many local water treatment plants, especially those in small, poor, and minority communities, can’t afford the equipment necessary to filter out contaminants. Those can include arsenic found naturally in rock, chemicals from factories and nitrates and fecal matter from farming. In addition, much of the country’s aging distribution […]

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