There's a one-in-four chance your drinking water isn't safe

JIM WATSON via Getty Images

JIM WATSON via Getty Images

77 million people-roughly a quarter of the USA population-spread across all 50 states were served by water systems reporting violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015, according to a report issued today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Numerous violations were "health based", meaning that they involved a specific danger to human health rather than a simple violation of federal requirements for reporting and monitoring.

Millions of Americans are served by water utilities where drinking water samples show contaminants above federally accepted levels.

Compared with other states, Pennsylvania drinking water systems ranked 13in the level of health-related violations, the report said.

How do we fix this major problem?

See here: Threats on Tap, widespread violations highlight need for investment in water infrastructure and protections.

Public water systems were created to address outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Lead and copper rounded out the top 5 health concern violations.

"Donald Trump will pay lip service to keeping drinking water safe, but his budget proposal shows a different set of priorities", said Jamie Consuegra, a legislative director for the environmental organization.

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"There's a two-tiered drinking water system in this nation, and rural America is most at risk from the inequality", Wu said in a statement.

In 2015, about 77 million people received water from some 18,000 water systems that were in violation of at least one rule stipulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. Health-based violations brought a higher rate of formal enforcement actions - 21.2 percent. The report also urged the EPA and state governments to disburse grants to low-income and minority areas, where people are most likely to be affected by poor drinking water.

A new threat to the nation's water supplies comes in the form of dramatic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's 2018 budget-including programs created to safeguard our nation's drinking water-despite President Trump's recognition that "crystal clear water" is vitally important to the country.

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

The NRDC said that it found almost 80,000 violations of drinking water rules across the country, but agreed with the DEP's argument that lax enforcement in some states could mean the number of violations is much higher in those states than reported.

Improve water infrastructure and modernize our 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. 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.

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