Tag Archive: tap water

Since 2004, testing by water utilities has found 315 pollutants in the tap water Americans drink, according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) drinking water quality analysis of almost 20 million records obtained from state water officials.

More than half of the chemicals detected are not subject to health or safety regulations and can legally be present in any amount. The federal government does have health guidelines for others, but 49 of these contaminants have been found in one place or another at levels above those guidelines, polluting the tap water for 53.6 million Americans. The government has not set a single new drinking water standard since 2001.

Water utilities spend 19 times more on water treatment chemicals every year than the federal government invests in protecting lakes and rivers from pollution in the first place.


Sediment being removed from a ISD water storage tank in West Texas.

The New York Times has A series about the worsening pollution in American waters and regulators’ response.  I found a lot of great information reading this series.

What is in your water?

Working with the Environmental working group the New York Times has published an interactive site to allow you to better understand what is in the water we drink.  Find your utility here New York Times Water Data Web Site. In an Article titled “That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy”  published in the New York Times, December  16, 2009, Charles Duhigg points out

“Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times”.

According to Duhigg the reports published by the National Academy of Sciences and many other health reports suggest that millions of Americans become sick each year from drinking contaminated water, with maladies from upset stomachs to cancer and birth defects.

Read the entire article here: That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy

To find our what is in your water click this link: Environmental Working Group & New York Times interactive web page.

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. Of the 260 contaminants detected in tap water from 42 states, for only 114 has EPA set enforceable health limits (called Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs), and for 5 others the Agency has set non-enforceable goals called secondary standards. (EPA 2005a). The 141 remaining chemicals without health-based limits contaminate water served to 195,257,000 people in 22,614 communities in 42 states.

Read the full report Here: http://www.ewg.org/tapwater/findings.php

To date only the State of Florida has set standards for cleaning water storage tanks.  Not only should standards be set for additional contaminates I thisnk is is just as or pehaps more important that standards be set for keeping tanks clean.  At this time it is just not understood how much sediment accumulates in an average water storage tank over a few years.  That sediment becomes a habitat where bacteria and other contaminates can thrive.

Once in your tank bacteria can grow rapidly if it finds a place to hide from the treatment chemicals sent to destroy it.

The EWG’s report also points out that “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.” If standards are put in place giving water utilities a time table that water storage tanks should be cleaned and or inspected the water utilities will comply.  For the most part they or the people controling their funds do not understand the improtance of inspection & cleaning.

Even after 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.  No one looked at the effects of Sediment in the water storage tanks.  It apparently was not an issue, never thought of,  the investigation only looked at reports of what the water utilitys found in their systems.

Keeping your water storage tanks clean may be one of the most overlooked maintenance procedures in the water industry.  Out of sight and out of mind, sediment in the bottom of your water storage tanks is never seen and rarely thought of. 

In 2002 The EPA Office of Ground and Drinking Water issued a paper on distribution systems titled “Health Risk From Microbial Growth and Biofilms in Drinking Water Distribution Systems”.  See the link below to read the full report.

That report sited –

Hepatitis A is a  primary pathogen that has been documented to survive more than four months in the sediment of a potable water storage tank.  

Bacteria, protozoa, and viruses can find sediment in the floor of a water storage tank an inviting habitat.


So if the EPA knows all of this why are most water storage tanks so dirty?  Like most thisngs in comes down to MONEY.

If you live in a new progressive community the likelyhood of your water storage tanks being inspected and cleaned on a regular basis is much better than if you are in a older, smaller and les affluent community.  If regulations are put into place money would need to follow to allow ecanomically depresed communities to maintain there systems properly.

I have been inspecting and cleaning water storage tanks since 1992.  What I have seen is the more ecanomically depresed  the community is the more likely they are to need their tanks cleand.  They are also more likely to drink more tap water.  I would think that the more affluent a community the more bottled water is consumed.  So we end up with the people who need clean tap water the most getting it the least.   I have found something important to do but I cand only help a very small % on my own. The health concerns associated with sediment in the water supplies are much biger than I am.   It is bigger than papers written and published by the EPA detailing the problem. It will take the general public to be concerned and perhaps a little sikened and outraged wouldnt hurt.  It will take people like you and me making noise and getting attention on this subject before the proper action will be taken. The Mission of this blog is to make some noise on this subject.  Let me know what you think.

If you are interested in this subject there are a few things to do:

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The EPA has published many reports on this subject.  The work has been done to establish the problem.  Its up to us to make sure something gets done about it.


Additional referenced and papers from the EPA.







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