Is Local Drinking Water Safe or Unsafe?
by L. Melendez
The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But drinking water quality varies from place to place depending on its source and treatment.
More than 90 percent of water systems meet the EPA's tap water quality standards. Water suppliers must notify people by newspaper, mail, radio, TV or hand delivery if water does not meet EPA or state standards or if there is a waterborne disease emergency.
The EPA will not test individual homes but can recommend laboratories to test water. A water test can range in cost from $15 to hundreds of dollars.
Americans drinks more than 1 billion glasses of tap water a day.
The Safe Drinking Water Act, which Congress originally passed in 1974, sets national standards to protect against contaminants in drinking water. The EPA, states and water systems work together to ensure standards are met.
Many local drinking water quality reports are online from the EPA at epa.gov/safewater/dwinfo/index.html. Water suppliers also must send water quality reports in the mail by July 1 of each year. The reports detail where the water comes from and what it contains.