The legislation in place is solid, scientifically-sound, and thoroughly vetted from a cost-benefit analysis side of things. The problem is lack of funding, and visibility into the issue. Apart from high-profile incidents of sickness and water main breaks, people just assume their tap generates clean drinking water and give no thought to where it comes from, or the work that is required to make it happen.
I wish people would think to what life must have been like in the 18th century, and how difficult it must've been to secure clean drinking water. The idea of having clean drinking water coming into your house via tap would've been a pipe dream (pun not intended), and a luxury only the most rich could afford. And now it's shunned in some crowds.
The bottled water crowd thinks they're immune to these issues around drinking water systems, but in fact the bottled water companies generally get their water from the same public drinking water systems we use, and their standards are in fact lower than those surrounding your tap water (as it's policed by the FDA, not the EPA).
All that said, we have amazing tap water in this country, and it is a testament to the people and agencies responsible for making that happen. I lived in Asia for over a year, and coming back to a country where I can drink what comes out of the tap, use it to brush my teeth, and not worry about getting it in my mouth while showering really puts things in perspective.
 (pdf) https://www.asdwa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/SRNAP-Analy...
Private water companies don't even make sense, as they can only exist as monopolies with the only incentive of squeezing as much profit as possible forever, pushing boundaries on water and service quality to pocket more money, lobbying for weakening of quality standards, etc. It cannot possibly be cheaper and better than fixing regional quality problems through very competitive water filtering market individually (you do know how cheap filtering systems actually are today?).
That's not true. Public water can be just as bad as private water, as you can get turf wars and projects motivated to spend money for the sake of spending money in the public sector more easily than in the public sector. A private water company can be more efficient in sharing backoffice tasks (such as billing) or achieving an economy of scale.
What really matters is not the distinction between public and private, but rather the quality and nature of the oversight.
The US has a trillion dollar deficit and I sometimes wonder were the hell its all going to.
(I'm glad to live in a country where this is not an issue; Amsterdam has the best drinking water in the world.)
I'll will continue to investigate some of your other statements for additions to the wiki.
Excuse my choice of words here, but wtf.
I always thought water in bottled units is held to a higher standard.
I don't really use bottled water, being lucky in where I live (and filtering). Does anyone know how much enforced transparency there is on the industry? In other words, can I in practice find out what processes they have applied or not to particular water, especially if the company has multiple plants ?
When I see people drinking bottled water I think 'enjoy your BPA dude'
But in countries that prioritise clean tap water, it's considered a fundamental right and a public health issue, and tap water is often held to a higher standard than bottled water, which is more of a luxury product than an essential.
The only household uses you could use a lower grade of tap water for would be toilets and clothes washing (and then only if you run the clothes on a hot cycle).
Hong Kong, for example, has separate water infrastructure for salt water, which is used for flushing toilets and other non-drinking uses.
What is it used for? Cooking?
It's surprisingly easy and quick to run way more water than you could drink in a day just for some daily cleaning duties.
Come to think of it, I drink around 2 liters per day; that's six mugs of coffee plus maybe a couple glasses of water.
How much water do I spend when I flush the toilet once and then wash my hands? I do that quite a few times every day.
I'm not sure about the water used for cleaning though. If you want your hands to be clean before eating, why would you clean them in something your can't safely drink?
Water usage is twice as high in summer as it is in winter. There's a reason why, when mandatory water restrictions go in effect, the first thing that's banned is watering lawns.
This does exlcude ~13 million private water systems (wells) which is good. On the link rhere’s a map you can click on and see what the health violations are.
[edited to move into commentary comment]
If I click on San Mateo County, California for example, they have a water company “Ca Water Service - Bear Gulch” who reported 1 violation afecting 58,432 people for “Surface, Ground Water, and Filter Backwash rules.”
This appears to be a leak, maybe some ground water got in and mixed with city water. You don’t want ground water mixing into drinking water since it carries a higher change of bacteria, etc. (aka you don’t want a bird pooping on a roof, then dripping into a water resevoir)
1. This is a transient problem, 54,000 people don’t have bad water. The company reported a leak/problem and presumably fixed it.
2. This is why we chlorinate water, it kills off bacteria that might somehow get in.
3. This problem may not have even reached consumers. Aka, this is a system working as designed to provide safe water.
The other way of looking at this is, the systems were tested, violations were found reported, and it looks like in most cases resoled without formal enforcement action. (seems about 6-10% of cases went to formal enforcement)
Go ahead, get your "just fine" tap water tested by a lab, it only costs a couple hundred bucks to do a full array.
Then, consider how misleading the "parts per million" metric is, considering Avogadro's number.
Just because all this shit does not lead to immediate and perceptible illness doesn't mean that it is not putting a strain on our immune systems and causing DNA damage left and right.
Each of those ppm requires an immune cell (or multiple) to bond with it, sacrificing itself, and transport it into the kidneys or liver, where it sits around also causing damage, and so on, until it is broken down into more hazardous substances, or finally leaves the body, if ever.
If you are not frantically getting filters installed in all your loved ones' homes, I think are just not paying attention. And I'm not talking about Brita either.
This is wrong on so many levels.
First off, your body is topologically closer to a donut than a sphere: your digestive tract is outside of your body for the most part. To actually ingest a compound requires it to pass through an acid (and bacteriological) bath and then diffuse through your intestines to your blood. This process is actually quite dependent on what else is simultaneously in your food at the time (which is why we talk of vitamins being fat- and water-soluble), and there is a deal of selectivity in the process. Note that this is why radioactive isotopes of iodine are more dangerous for you than uranium: your body will happily pick up the iodine but the uranium will largely end up in your feces instead.
As a second matter, immune cells attack living organisms and viruses, not organic and inorganic compounds. These compounds are generally delivered diffused in blood plasma (perhaps in coordination with proteins floating free in plasma), and transport is largely effected by the proteins on the cellular membrane. Naturally, there is an osmotic effect on the movement of constituents of blood plasma.
I will also point out that the EPA does not regulate biological substances on a ppm basis. The regulate it on the basis of "did you find a sample of water with E. coli in it?", even if there was a single specimen in the sample.
What about Avogadro's number make a PPM metric (i.e. a ratio) misleading??? Because there are a lot of millions in Avogadro's number? How is that relevant to a ratio?
Here's an example. If you get some baker's yeast an put it in sugar water and then add a little bit of salt, most of the yeast will not die. However, it will struggle. If you maintain that yeast, in your lifetime it will likely not adapt to the salt, but neither will it grow well. There are yeasts that are adapted to salt, so if they happen to get in there, they will take over. However, if they are not around, the baker's yeast that is struggling there may never adapt to the salt. The mutations that would provide salt adaptation are not guaranteed. It may continue to struggle for aeons. It would be silly to say that it's OK to add salt to the yeast simply because it has lived for a long time in a salty environment. The salt is still bad for it.
Just to be clear, just because we evolved in an environment that contains something does not mean that our bodies evolved to handle that problem efficiently. It just wasn't bad enough to kill us off. Similarly (because I see this with diet conversations all the time), the fact that our diet was one way a long time ago, does not in itself suggest that this is a healthy diet. It just means that it wasn't bad enough to kill us off.
And if I may throw my two cents in, humans were "designed" to live right around somewhere in the 60-70 range. This has been true since we kept track of humans, at least.
"The Environmental Protection Agency regulates more than 90 contaminants—but a hundred more that are tracked are so far unregulated."
But are we supposed to worry about these other "contaminants"?
Watch this, if you haven't already:
"The Devil We Know". It's a documentary about the Ohio river valley polution by 3M and Dupont in the production of Teflon. There are many amazing parts in this documentary but one of the most eye opening, is the fact that Dupont understood the risks of dumping C8 into the water. Yet the continued to do it, because, profits.
Who can say what companies are around you, polluting the ground water? Just be careful with assumptions that its always safe, is all I'm saying. I'm sure people in the Ohio River Valley thought the same.
> Our analysis showed that 82 percent of public schools in New York had one or more taps that exceeded the state’s lead action level
The above is just one example of what is going on.
Your body certainly struggles to filter heavy metals. Studies have shown that any amount of e.g. lead is harmful.
A few years ago I tried out Brita water filters. The water tasted weird and a single glass of water didn't leave me feeling as hydrated as straight from the tap did.
Depends on where you live.
Chicago water is notoriously shitty and has been found to have a large amount of lead in it.
Your body cannot filter out lead or other heavy metals, and it will build up in your system and lead to brain damage. I know it is macho to "not worry about those contaminants like some weak manlet" but you should actually know what is going into your body before making unilateral decisions.