Drinking Water Supplies- How is Your Tap Water Regulated?

Author(s): Janasie, C.

In the past, many Americans took the safety of their drinking water for granted. However, recent national news stories about the quality of drinking water have brought water quality to the forefront of many people’s minds. Most noteworthy have been the stories of lead contamination in the drinking water supplies in cities like Flint, MI and Jackson, MS. In addition to lead contamination, additional issues with drinking water supplies have also appeared. For instance, in 2014 a harmful algal bloom forced Toledo, OH to issue a two-day ban on the use of the city’s tap water, which had tested positive for the toxin microcystin. Further, lawsuits have emerged concerning the drinking water supplies in cities such as New York, NY and Des Moines, Iowa. Litigants in those cases claim there are Clean Water Act violations in the delivery of water to households in the respective cities.

This talk will focus first on how drinking water supplies are regulated in the United States. Next, the talk will review the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as what happens when a drinking water supply exceeds a contaminant level under the Act, such as when the lead level was exceeded in Jackson, MS. In addition, the talk will discuss the role that other environmental statutes, like the Clean Water Act, play in the regulation of our drinking water supplies. Finally, the talk will consider what changes may be coming to the regulation of drinking water in the United States.

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