U.S. Drinking Water: Contaminated and Safe

Ladies and gentlemen- your drinking water is contaminated, yes, and it’s also safe to drink.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) just published a report on the state of drinking water wells and aquifer systems in California, Nebraska, Connecticut and Florida. Overall, they found that some wells were contaminated but not contaminated enough to be a problem. That plastic bottle of water is still not a better choice.

Photo Credit: PNNL The USGS tested 4 aquifers for their contamination vulnerability
The USGS tested 4 aquifers for their contamination vulnerability

The study of public-supply well contamination vulnerability is a USGS national priority within their National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. Around 35% of the U.S. gets their drinking water from public groundwater systems.

The goal of the study, begun in 2001, is to identify dominant contaminants, assess their effects, analyze how to protect the public water supply, develop methods for assessing vulnerability and spread an understanding of how it works.

Here are a few examples of the study’s findings:

β€’ Central Valley Aquifer near Modesto, CA: Uranium contamination.
β€’ Glacial Aquifer in Woodbury, CT: β€œYoung” water vulnerable to contamination from human-made compounds, especially from diverted storm-water.
β€’ High Plains Aquifer near York, NE: Nitrate and volatile organic compounds leak into the public-supply well.
β€’ Floridan Aquifer near Tampa, FL: Increasing arsenic concentrations in water reaching the supply well.

Acknowledging that it is important to assess, address and avoid contamination as much as possible in the future, the USGS also says that the contamination is not so major as to endanger public health.

For more details on the USGS and water contamination issues, visit their Public Water Supply page.

Written by Scott James


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