Threats on Tap: Widespread Violations Highlight Need for Investment in Water Infrastructure and Protections

Natural Resources Defense Council

This report expands the Natural Resources Defense Council’s analysis beyond lead to examine all drinking water contaminants regulated under the Safe Water Drinking Act (SDWA). Much as Flint is not the only water system with lead problems, they found that Lead and Copper Rule problems are far from the only widespread violations of drinking water rules. Their research shows that in 2015 alone, nearly 77 million people were served by more than 18,000 community water systems that violated at least one SDWA rule, and there were more than 80,000 violations of SDWA rules that year. These violations included exceeding health-based standards, failing to properly test water for contaminants, and failing to report contamination to state authorities or the public. These violations—combined with shortcomings in the EPA’s rules, lackluster enforcement, and the aging drinking water treatment and distribution infrastructure—have very real public health consequences. Fixing the infrastructure problems that cause these violations can save lives, reduce the occurrence of disease, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in communities that need them most.