Several recent national studies have found dozens of public utilities in Texas that supply tens of thousands of people with drinking water that contains illegal levels of radiation, lead and arsenic. So how concerned should Texans be when they turn on the tap?
For those who live in urban areas, not very. But the studies have found that rural Texans are particularly at risk.
The latest, published earlier this month by the Washington D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, identified 37 water utilities serving nearly 25,000 Texans in violation of federal standards for radium — a known carcinogen that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says isn’t safe for human consumption at any level. All of the utilities are in small towns or rural areas, with a majority serving populations under 300.
Two other studies, both published in 2016, found that 34 rural drinking water systems serving about 51,000 Texans have exceeded the federal drinking water limit for arsenic — also a known carcinogen — for at least a decade and that 53 of the 100 community water systems with the most violations of the so-called Lead and Copper Rule are in Texas, with more than 60 percent serving populations under 100. […]