Federal and state governments must do more to protect the health of rural Americans in communities where drinking water may be contaminated by lead or not even tested for the brain-damaging toxin, lawmakers and environmental advocates said in response to a USA TODAY Network investigation this week.
The investigation found the United States’ drinking water enforcement system doesn’t make small utilities play by the same rules as large ones, exposing millions of Americans to lead-tainted or untested water. About 4 million Americans get their water from small operators who skipped required tests or didn’t conduct them properly, according to an analysis of records from the federal government and all 50 states. The investigation also revealed that about 100,000 people get drinking water from small utilities that discovered excessive lead contamination, but failed to treat the water to remove it even though the problem is known by state and federal regulators assigned to keep water clean and safe.
4 million Americans could be drinking toxic water and would never know
“Water quality is a vital priority” no matter the size of a community, said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., D-New Jersey. “This is not a Third World country and we shouldn’t act like a Third World country….The federal government has to help. We need all hands on deck.”
Pascrell and others said the nation needs to invest more money in drinking water infrastructure, strengthen safety rules and do a better job at enforcing existing regulations.
“The moral justice on this is really clear,” added Ruth Ann Norton, president and CEO of Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. “American kids don’t live only in Baltimore or only in Philadelphia or other big cities. They live in West Virginia and West Texas and Oklahoma too….These have been wholly overlooked communities.”
You may read the full article at USA Today