When was the last time you had a drink of water? Maybe there’s a glass sitting on your desk, or a water bottle tucked away somewhere. Most of us don’t think about access to water – clean water. It’s a simple necessity that everyone should have access to, a basic fact of life that seems so obvious that it wouldn’t be overlooked. Yet millions of Americans live each day with water that hasn’t been properly tested, and in many cases has actually been found to be unsafe.
A USA Today reporter spent 2016 reviewing countless reports on water quality and water tests from the EPA, as well as tests from all 50 states. They found that 4 million Americans get their drinking water from sources that were not properly tested, and about 100,000 actually consumed water that contained lead. No action was taken to remove the lead or purify the water after the tests came back.
Regulatory overhaul needs to happen in order to prevent this from occurring in the future, but this kind of issue should also be treated at the source. Harmful contamination of drinking water often comes from aging water infrastructure, usually poor systems of purification or transportation, which put dangerous chemicals into our water systems. In many cases, the pipes that bring water to us were laid down decades ago. They’re long overdue for replacements and repairs. This is as plain as an issue can be: clean water is necessary to survive, and it isn’t getting to millions of Americans.
A measure that would tweak the Safe Drinking Water Act is currently being marked up by a House Energy & Commerce Committee subpanel. This is a great first step, but more action needs to be taken for all Americans to have access to quality drinking water. As the discussion around infrastructure investment continues to heat up in Washington, the GAIN coalition hopes that the quality of water being brought to Americans across the country is not forgotten. An investment in water infrastructure should be at the forefront of these discussions, and we’re glad to see Congress already taking action to ensure safe drinking water is available to everyone.