Dec 09, 2009

<i>New York Times</i>: More Than 20% of U.S. Water Treatment Systems Contain Harmful Chemicals

Analysis reveals millions of people could be drinking contaminated tap water

A New York Times investigation has revealed some unsettling findings on the state of the nation’s water treatment systems. According to the newspaper’s analysis, more than 20% of U.S. water treatment systems are in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Ultimately, this means that almost 50 million people have been provided with arsenic, uranium or bacteria-ridden tap water. The problem is widespread, as the analysis points out that it affects every state.

The report also pointed out that less than 6% of violators were given punishment for their issues, throwing into question the enforcement of safety laws.

The analysis, based on water system and regulator records nationwide, pointed out, for instance, that Ramsey, N.J.--though its water system contained the carcinogens arsenic and tetrachloroethylene--was not fined for its violations.

In addition, the report noted that the violations tended to take place at smaller water systems (fewer than 20,000 residents) where knowledgeable industry professionals may be sparse.

According to the New York Times, the EPA is working on reforming its enforcement processes for the Clean Water Act.