A new study administrated by the Natural Resources Defense Council revealed that there are over 80,000 violations of Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015, which means one out of four Americans are drinking unsafe water.
SDWA violations fall into two categories: health-based violations, and monitoring and reporting. Among health-based violations are arsenic to nitrate contamination, failure to properly treat surface and groundwater to remove dangerous pathogens, and failure to remove/filter cancer-causing family of chemicals called disinfection byproducts.
Violations were seen in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and other territories (excluding Guam and the District of Columbia). Nationwide, 77 million people were found to be exposed to unsafe water.
Top five states with SDWA violations by population:
- TEXAS: 12,066,920 people served
- FLORIDA: 7,540,465 people served
- PENNSYLVANIA: 5,645,903 people served
- NEW JERSEY: 4,487,703 people served
- GEORGIA: 3,846,734 people served
Top five systems with health-based violations:
- TEXAS: 4,970,249 people served
- PUERTO RICO: 2,410,809 people served
- OHIO: 2,315,260 people served
- MARYLAND: 1,754,409 people served
- KENTUCKY: 1,513,617 people served
The study also found that nearly nine out of 10 violations that were reported in 2015 were subject to no formal action by the state or EPA. According to NBC 2, the study was carried out as a response to the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, where untreated water resulted in high blood-lead levels in children and an outbreak of a deadly disease.
"The problem is two-fold: there's no cop on the beat enforcing our drinking water laws, and we're living on borrowed time with our ancient, deteriorating water infrastructure," Erik Olson, NRDC's health program director, said in a statement. "We take it for granted that when we turn on our kitchen tap, the water will be safe and healthy, but we have a long way to go before that is reality across our country."
SDWA requires that the EPA recognize and regulate drinking water contaminants, but clearly, the data reviewed by the nonprofit organization showed EPA's effort is not enough.
Last March, United States President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Order to dismantle the clean water rule, also known as the Waters of the United States, putting more Americans at risk of drinking contaminated waters.
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