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December 8th, 2009
04:30 PM ET

Millions in U.S. drink dirty water, records show

More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years.

More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years.

Charles Duhigg
The New York Times

More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.

That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Years ago one of my hospital patients refused to drink water and drank beer instead because he said it was cleaner. It was proven this man was not an alcoholic and beer was ordered and delivered to his room.

    December 8, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  2. Tim Gibson

    Yet, we are to assume that by reclaiming sewage water for reuse we will be protected by strict laws and guidelines.

    December 8, 2009 at 11:46 am |