Drinking Water Safety in the United States: Coast to Coast and Source to Tap


Starting at the national and state level (but recognizing that water availability and quality does not start and end at political borders), and building upward to individual households, these barriers to contamination help keep us healthy and hydrated because next to the air we breathe, nothing is more important to our survival and welfare than safe drinking water. We have focused on virtually every element in the pyramid at some point (and sometimes from multiple perspectives), and I encourage interested readers to click on the hyperlinks and explore our continually growing “library” of articles.

National- and State-Level Protection

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its amendments provide theregulatory blueprintfor protecting U.S. drinking water, including over 50,000 community water systems that provide treated water to over 300 million Americans. (Roughly 15 percent, almost 45 million people, get all or part of their water from private wells and are responsible for monitoring and maintaining the safety of their drinking water.) Implementing the SDWA, including the development, enforcement, and oversight of drinking water regulations and standards, is supported by the collaborative work of federal (primarily the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or EPA), state, tribal, and local governments. Public health agencies in the states and territories report information on waterborne disease outbreaks to the疾病預防控製中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for national-level reporting.

Watershed and Regional Protection

用於飲用水的特定表麵或地下水源的易感性取決於天然/氣候條件以及流域中的人類相關活動。請看我們最近討論的文章source water protectionfor further information.

Community Protection

The availability of safe,treated (finished) drinking waterin most U.S. communities, which vary tremendously in size, relies on central collection and treatment of “raw water” (typically by filtering, treating, and disinfecting the source water). It also requires a vast network of pumps, tanks, and pipes, and the maintenance of achlorine-based residualto safely store and distribute treated water from the plant to individual taps in our homes, businesses, and schools. EPA requires community water systems to deliver a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR; typically online), commonly called an annualdrinking water quality report, to their customers every year under the SDWA. CCRs provide information about local drinking water sources and quality, including test results for regulated contaminants. The SDWA also requires community water systems to notify their consumers if there is—or could be—a problem with their drinking water quality throughboil water advisories and notices.

Household Protection

Naturally, we consume most treated water in and around our homes, not just for drinking but also for bathing, laundering clothes, cooking, and even filling our swimming pools. For those concerned with water quality in their homes, particularly its taste and odor, a wide variety of PoU (point-of-use)可提供和入口點設備,從廚房點擊過濾器到整個房屋反滲透處理係統。我們還寫了關於private well basicsincluding siting, maintenance, disinfection, and water quality testing, as well asmanaging flooded wells.


Chris Wiant, MPH, PhD, is president and CEO of the Caring for Colorado Foundation. He is also chair of the Water Quality & Health Council and a member of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council.

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