We Look at the Top Water Quality News Stories of 2018
There are millions of Americans that don’t have access to clean, reliable drinking water! The technology used to deliver drinking water has come a long way in the past hundred years — but sadly, there are cities across the United States where little has changed.
There are specific situations across the country that highlight some of the issues every American should be aware of. By understanding the challenges involved in maintaining and operating a municipal water system (compounded with some of the recent natural disasters) we can understand how problems can occur.
Problems with drinking contaminated water keep coming up year after year. The contaminants in the water are giving people cases of the flu and sometimes even more severe chronic conditions including different cancers and neurological disorders.
During the Flint water crisis that happened in 2015, approximately 21 million Americans were receiving water from systems that violated health standards, and that doesn’t include the more than 13 million private well systems exempt from federal safety requirements.
What’s worse, the number of violations increased from 1982 to 2015 and oddly spiking in the years following the addition of new regulations. For example, after a rule about coliform bacteria was established in 1990, the number of violations doubled within five years.
When researchers took a look at what states were most vulnerable, they found that low-income, rural counties took the hardest hit, particularly Oklahoma and in parts of Texas and Idaho.
What’s more, at least 6 million city water pipes in the U.S. are made of metal, which is so dangerous that there isn’t an acceptable safe level, and many local governments have thin budgets for replacement.
It’s not just lousy plumbing either, some lakes, rivers, and groundwater are polluted by worrisome levels of natural compounds like arsenic, human-made chemicals, and agricultural runoff such as animal waste, fertilizers, and pesticides.
Here at iWaterPurification, it’s our goal to help everyone get access to clean, healthy drinking water. These stories highlight some of the incredible challenges Americans across the country are dealing with – just to get access to clean water.
Top 18 News Stories Of 2018
We’ve rounded up of the top 18 news stories of 2018 from around the web concerning water quality across the United States.
Not Far From Flint, Contamination Has Left Detroit School Taps Dry
Marcel Clark, who is a Detroit police officer and father of three, has been filling a 50-gallon drum each week with purified water for his family to drink. This comes as a result of the water contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., which is an hour’s drive away from him. Marcel says he doesn’t trust the ageing copper and steel pipes in his house and has been talking to contractors about replacing them. However, his children may have already been exposed to tainted water at their school! The water fountains in all 106 schools run by the Detroit Public Schools Community District have been dry since classes began in August. The superintendent ordered them to shut off as a pre-emptive measure, after testing revealed elevated levels of copper and lead in drinking water at some schools. After completing checks at 86 of the schools last month, officials announced that 57 of them had lead or copper levels above the federal thresholds that require action to be taken.
Rural America’s Own Private Flint: Polluted Water Too Dangerous to Drink
What was once fresh and clean water from taps in this Midwestern farming town is now laced with contaminants and fear. People refuse to drink it. They won’t brush their teeth with it. They dread taking showers. Rural communities are calling it their own, private Flint. Fears and frustration over water quality and contamination have become a potent election-year issue, burbling up in races from the fissured bedrock here in Wisconsin to chemical-tainted wells in New Hampshire to dwindling water reserves in Arizona. President Trump’s actions to loosen clean water rules have intensified a battle over regulations and environmental protections unfolding on the most intensely local level: in people’s own kitchen faucets.
read the story here
This Town Is Like Thousands That Are Vulnerable To Contaminated Water, With No Fix In Sight
In this rural community in central Louisiana, residents have been struggling with water problems. ‘We’re third-world when it comes to drinking water.’ for the past year and a half, This woman and her family have been routinely sick, as they battle their tap water. From H. pylori bacteria to bouts of coughing, bronchitis and respiratory infections. “we’re afraid to drink it, and we’re afraid to open our mouth in the shower.” It’s what’s known as America’s “dirty little secret.”
Southwestern Michigan City's Water Under Advisory for Lead
Benton Harbor’s water system has been placed under a state advisory after high levels of lead were found in the southwestern Michigan city’s drinking water. Residents are being advised to take steps to reduce the amount of lead in their drinking water, including running cold water for five minutes before drinking or cooking with it. Bottled water is being recommended for preparing infant formula as the lead in the drinking water can cause health problems and developmental delays in children.
read the story here
Ohio Brewery Makes Green Beer That Looks Like Algae
Craft brewers nationwide are pushing for strong environmental regulations while also working to preserve rivers and streams, all in the name of water. A group of brewers in Michigan voted this year to back shutting down an aging oil pipeline where lakes Huron and Michigan meet because it could be vulnerable to leaks. A growing number are getting involved at a time when the Trump administration is seeking to do away with a rule that a group of brewers say protects water sources from pollution. It’s making a statement on the one ingredient brewers can’t do without — clean water.
read the story here
Your Rural Water System May Be Close to a Flint-Like Crisis
All of the ten systems have serious issues that, if not fixed, could lead to a health crisis. Five of the seven systems in Central Louisiana on the list are under an administrative order for not fixing their problems, and a sixth only recently came into compliance after being under an administrative order. Six have been cited for having contaminants in their water since 2016, five of them for the contaminant trihalomethanes, or TTHM, which precipitated the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, in 2015. More than half the systems in the state are operating with infrastructure that’s more than 50 years old. A 2011 Environmental Protection Agency report estimated Louisiana would need to spend $5.3 billion to get its drinking water infrastructure up to par.
read the story here
Report: Michigan Military Base Water May Have Caused Cancer
Contaminated drinking water might have caused cancer and other chronic diseases among veterans and families who lived at a former northern Michigan military base. The report concluded that people who consumed or had skin contact with Wurtsmith water might be at an increased risk for cancer. Extremely high levels of benzene and trichloroethylene were documented in the former B-52 bomber base’s water before its 1993 closure. The report is based on long-term exposure over a period of years. The findings also note that even short-term exposure to trichloroethylene for pregnant mothers during the first trimester could lead to heart birth defects in their children.
read the story here
What’s in the Water? Wisconsin Community Works for Clean Water
Maureen Muldoon, a geology professor at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh and a researcher involved with various well-testing studies throughout the region, says Kewaunee County is “the poster child for water-quality problems in northeast Wisconsin.” Wisconsin continues to have well-contamination rates throughout the county in the 25 to 30 percent range, and if it seeps down into the groundwater, it can add a lot of nitrates which is not safe for adults, and especially for young children. Water accounts for more than two-thirds of Kewaunee County’s roughly 1,000-square-mile area, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, making it inevitable that at least some manure from the county’s count of 97,000 cattle and calves – outnumbering humans nearly 5 to 1 – will end up in area waterways.
Oregon Water Scare: Algae Blooms Happening More Often
Toxins from algae bloom were detected in the city’s water supply. A trend that researchers say represents another impact of global warming and raises looming questions about the effects on human health. Long linked to animal deaths, high doses of the toxins in humans can cause liver damage and attack the nervous system. In the largest outbreaks, hundreds have been sickened by blooms in reservoirs and lakes. Studies have linked exposure to liver cancer – one toxin is classified as a carcinogen, and others have pointed to potential links to neurodegenerative disease.
Analyzing America's Worrisome Water Quality
Violation incidence in rural areas is substantially higher than in urbanized areas. That’s because rural areas tend to have less capacity to comply with quality regulations and face financial strain due to decline populations and lower incomes. Assistance in achieving consistent compliance and greater oversight may benefit vulnerable water systems. Although not all violations can result in immediate health issues, continued exposure to contaminants can be dangerous and can lead to a range of long-term problems such as gastroenteritis, and chronic conditions such as neurological conditions and cancer.
Tens of millions of Americans exposed to unsafe drinking water each year
The problem of contaminated drinking water extends far beyond Flint, Mich. A study found tens of millions of Americans could be exposed to unsafe drinking water in any given year, consuming a broad spectrum of contaminants, including fecal coliform, lead and arsenic. In 2015, nearly 21 million people relied on community water systems that violated health-based quality standards. The study found violations were less likely to occur in privately owned utilities and in systems that purchase treated water from other utilities.
read the story here
'You Just Don't Touch That Tap Water Unless Absolutely Necessary'
Aleigha Sloan can’t remember ever drinking a glass of water from the tap at her home. That is “absolutely dangerous, you just don’t touch that tap water unless absolutely necessary. I mean, like showers and things — you have to do what you have to do. But other than that, no, I don’t know anybody that does. You take it for granted until you don’t have it.” 50 percent of water utilities — serving about 12 percent of the population — are privately owned. This complicated mix of public and private ownership often confounds efforts to mandate improvements or levy penalties, even if customers complain of poor water quality or mismanagement. Drinking water is delivered nationally via 1 million miles of pipes, many of which were laid in the early to mid-20th century, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Those pipes are now nearing the end of their life spans.
Is there a new water crisis in Michigan?
Michigan’s lieutenant governor called a state of emergency for Kalamazoo County due to water contaminated with chemicals at more 20 times the threshold set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It’s yet another site on a growing list of those around the state contaminated with the chemicals PFAS or PFOA. Last week, test results from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found water in the municipal water system in the city of Parchment, which is located in Kalamazoo County, had levels of PFAS as high as 1,410 parts per trillion. The EPA’s recommended limit is 70 parts per trillion. The industrial chemicals, known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances or PFASs, have been linked to a variety of adverse health effects, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer.
Conspiracy to Hide New Data on Water Pollution
A major government report showing widespread contamination of U.S. water supplies with toxic chemicals was kept from the public for months in order to prevent a “potential public relations nightmare.” The report, prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), not only showed widespread water contamination near military bases, chemical plants and elsewhere, but warned that the chemicals could harm human health at levels significantly lower than those deemed safe by the U.S.
Detroit public school district shuts down water supply at all schools amid lead fears
The 50,000 students returning to public school classrooms in Detroit won’t have access to drinking fountains due to elevated levels of lead and copper which have forced the district to shut off the water supply. The district superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, cited safety concerns for staff and students. “I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broad analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions.” The latest results come on the heels of previous tests from 2016 and spring 2018 that revealed elevated copper and lead levels, bringing the total number of schools with water quality issues to 34 out of the 106 Detroit currently operates.
Drinking water: 1.5M in NJ served by utilities that failed tests since Flint
Newark isn’t the only place in New Jersey where the purity and safety of drinking water have been called into question. More than 1.5 million New Jerseyans are served by a utility that has been cited for excessive contaminants since April 2014, when the Flint water crisis was revealed. The data shows that water utilities in the Garden State have racked up at least 226 contamination violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act since Flint became synonymous with tainted tap water and put other water systems under a spotlight. The state’s largest city, Newark, acknowledged last month that the treatment program it was deploying to stop lead from leaching into drinking water in the city was “no longer effective.”
Lawsuits filed over drinking water in South Carolina after CNN report
Two lawsuits have been filed on behalf of residents of Denmark, South Carolina, where a CNN investigation revealed that a chemical was being added to the water supply for 10 years without EPA approval. The city of Denmark has been under scrutiny from residents suspicious of the rust-colored water coming from their taps, even though the local and state government assured them it was safe. One of the lawsuits seeks to have water bills reimbursed for that time period and alleges that the local government had no right to make people pay for water that was not potable.
read the story here
WEDEW turns air into drinking water by creating artificial clouds in a shipping container
A team led by US architect David Hertz has developed an energy-efficient technology for harvesting fresh drinking water from the air, which is contained within a shipping container for easy transport. The WEDEW system can generate 2,000 litres of water per day by combining cold and hot air to create condensation, in a manner that replicates the way clouds are formed. Created by US partnership the Skysource/Skywater Alliance, it was the winner of the recent Water Abundance XPRIZE. This two-year development competition aimed to find the best system of atmospheric water generation (AWG) – a process where water is drawn out of the air via condensation. AWG can be used to help areas where water scarcity or quality are a problem. However, existing technologies have come with a high carbon footprint. The Water Abundance XPRIZE was set up to reward an energy-efficient demonstration of the method. A number of groups are working on harvesting drinking water from the air.
What Can Be Done?
Drinking clean, reliable, and safe water, unfortunately, remains a precious and frequently scarce commodity. Here are 7 steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from contaminated drinking water:
1. Test your water
Hardware stores usually provide at-home kits at, but a reliable option is to request it from state-certified labs (find it here). Have your water analyzed once a year or right away if you’ve experienced a flood or if your water looks, smells, or tastes unusual.
2. Limit lead as much as possible
If your pipes do have lead, run water for at least 5 minutes to flush out the icky liquid that’s been resting in them and try to clean your faucet’s filter screens every couple of months.
3. Invest in a filtration system
Look for a whole house water filtration system that gets rid of the specific contaminants found in your area. There are plenty of affordable, easy to install options that can help improve the taste of your drinking water, while protecting your family. Healthy, clean water and good tasting water go hand in hand, and the right water filter system can really make a difference.
4. Read up on water reports
This is very easy. Just enter your zip code into the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database or you can even request a report from your local water utility. If you’re confused by chemical names or want to know what’s being done to correct violations, simply ask your provider.
5. Understand the pipes in your city
Especially the pipes in your home. Your city water department will be able to tell you whether you have lead service lines.
6. Not all water bottles are made the same (know the difference)
According to an NRDC report, about 25 percent of bottled water is tap water, which may or may not receive further treatment.
Tip: A seal from NSF International signals the product has been independently tested and certified for quality.
7. Reach out to Congress
Urge your state representatives to support HR 1068. This is a bill that would mandate stricter standards on contaminants and provide grants for updating ageing service lines.
Water is a fundamental human need. We all require at least 20 to 50 litres of clean, safe water a day for drinking, cooking, and simply keeping ourselves clean. Water is the primary necessity, and it’s an awful fact that there are billions of people around the world who do not have access to clean drinking water. While it may seem that the issue of clean and reliable drinking water only exist in developing countries, the fact is that many people in first-world countries, such as the U.S, don’t have access to clean and safe water. We hope that as awareness grows, and as technology continues to advance, more solutions are put forward to creating water solutions for people all over the world including our environment as a whole.