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Information about drinking water

General information about drinking water

A good place to start is the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency website which has extensive information about public and private water supply issues.

Here are links to a few pages on the EPA website:

From the EPA page on Private Drinking Water Wells:

If your family gets drinking water from a private well, do you know if your water is safe to drink? What health risks could you and your family face? Where can you go for help or advice?

The information contained in this web site will help you answer these questions.

EPA regulates public water systems; it does not have the authority to regulate private drinking water wells. Approximately 15 percent of Americans rely on their own private drinking water supplies, and these supplies are not subject to EPA standards, although some state and local governments do set rules to protect users of these wells. Unlike public drinking water systems serving many people, they do not have experts regularly checking the water’s source and its quality before it is sent to the tap. These households must take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance of their drinking water supplies.

  • Basic Information - Learn about the types of drinking water wells and guidelines for proper construction.
  • Where You Live - Find information about private drinking water wells in your region or state.
  • Frequent Questions -This page answers questions you may have about your well water.
  • Human Health - Learn about health risks associated with drinking water wells.
  • Partnerships - Several organizations are working to keep private drinking water wells safe.
  • What You Can Do - Learn how to do your part in keeping your drinking water well safe.
  • Publications - Download or order copies of brochures, booklets, posters, reports, and multi-media publications.
  • Related Links - Link to web sites with additional information on private drinking water wells.
  • Glossary - Look up unfamiliar terms in EPA’s electronic glossary.

Here are some topics covered on the EPA Ground & Drinking Water FAQ page:

On this page:

  • Getting Information about your Tap Water
    • Is it safe?
    • How will I know if my water isn't safe to drink?
    • What's this new drinking water report that I've heard about?
    • How can I test it?
  • Drinking Water Standards and Contaminants (including taste and odor concerns)
    • What are drinking water standards?
    • How do I find information about
      • specific contaminants or the
      • taste/odor of my tap water?
  • Special Health Needs of People With Severely Compromised Immune Systems
    • What if I have a compromised immune system?
  • Do you have a Private Drinking Water Well?
  • Questions about Bottled Water?
  • Information and resources on Home Water Treatment Units
  • Drinking Water Sources and Protection
    • Where does my drinking water come from?
    • How can I help protect it?
  • Facts and More Information
    • How many public water systems are there in the U.S.?
    • Where can I get more information?

Here are links to a few more sources of information about drinking water:

Executive Summary'

Tap water in 42 states is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards, according to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) two-and-a-half year investigation of water suppliers' tests of the treated tap water served to communities across the country.

In an analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests, most of which were required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, EWG found that water suppliers across the U.S. detected 260 contaminants in water served to the public. One hundred forty-one (141) of these detected chemicals — more than half — are unregulated; public health officials have not set safety standards for these chemicals, even though millions drink them every day.

EWG's analysis also found over 90 percent compliance with enforceable health standards on the part of the nation's water utilities, showing a clear commitment to comply with safety standards once they are developed. The problem, however, is EPA's failure to establish enforceable health standards and monitoring requirements for scores of widespread tap water contaminants.


Find your water supplier

Environmental Working Group has compiled drinking water contamination on over 39751 water utilities in 42 states through contact with state environmental and health agencies. For the first time ever, you will see how your tap water stacks up against other cities and towns throughout the US.

Here are a few files in PDF format:

Some sources of information about water testing

To find a state-certified lab to test your water

From the EPA State Certification Officers for Drinking Water Laboratories page:

If you want to know what contaminants are in your drinking water, check your annual water quality report from your water supplier or call the water supplier directly. If you want to have additional tests on your water, EPA recommends that you use a laboratory certified by the state. Call the state certification officer or click the web link below to get a list of certified labs.

For more information on when or what to test for, see this EPA brochure Home Water Testing (pdf)

Physicians for Social Responsibility fact sheets on safe drinking water

Some sources of information about specific water contaminants and health concerns

"Crypto" - Cryptosporidiosis

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page on cryptosporidiosis (this CDC page has links to many sources of further information):

Cryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium Infection)

Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites of the genus Cryptosporidium. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as "Crypto."

Many species of Cryptosporidium exist that infect humans and a wide range of animals. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very resistant to chlorine disinfection.

While this parasite can be transmitted in several different ways, water is a common method of transmission and Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease (drinking water and recreational water) among humans in the United States.

Tags: Ecology - Government Services