Although cities like Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey have been dealing with water system issues for years, the crisis of contaminated tap water is far more widespread than previously thought. An alarming new study published by the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that about 77 million Americans (or about one-quarter of the country), are drinking contaminated tap water.
The study — which analyzed thousands of water samples from across the nation — has found that there were safety violations in 18,000 public water systems in 2015. The report blames crumbling infrastructure and the failure to adhere to the standards of the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act. The worst offenders were found to have water systems polluted by arsenic, nitrate, lead, and radionuclides.
“America is facing a nationwide drinking water crisis that goes well beyond lead contamination,” said co-author Erik Olson, health program director at NRDC. “The problem is twofold: 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. 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.”
The states listed below have the worst and highest number of safety and hygienic violations, based on population:
The Natural Resources Defense Council predicts that President Trump’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency would exacerbate the problem and create a health crisis nationwide, especially for rural America.
“Americans have a right to safe, clean drinking water, but President Trump is killing that right with a meat axe,” said Jamie Consuegra, a legislative director with NRDC. “Our tap water should not poison us or make us sick. We can’t play politics with our health or our children’s future.”