The EPA launched its Drinking Water in Public Supplies 2020 Report today. While the report states that 99.7% of publicly supplied drinking water is compliant with biological and chemical standards it shows there is considerable risk in the reliability of drinking water supplies nationally.
At the end of 2020, 46 drinking water supplies serving 1 million people were on the Remedial Action List, a supply is placed on the RAL if it cannot consistently be ensured that the drinking water is free from bacteria, protozoan organisms or chemical substances and that the treatment plant is operating effectively and correctly. Such issues if undetected can put the public’s health at risk as polluted drinking water can make people ill and if detected can result in boil water notices and disruptions to supply. Urgent action to resolve these issues is required to protect nearly one quarter of the population.
In 2020, nearly 75,000 people were put on boil water notices because of failures in the disinfection processes at plants. This can in part be due to issues with raw waters owing to storm events increasing the levels of pollution in the raw water or to drought events resulting in pollution concentrations or to failures in plant equipment or procedures. Better monitoring, procedures and operational checks are required to prevent these sorts of incidents from occurring.
The Water Forum Press Release response to the EPA Drinking Water Quality Report 2020