Drinking Water Monitoring

Water is essential for human survival. It is incredibly important that we drink water that is deemed safe for consumption. In the United States, community water testing is guided by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act which regulates public drinking water supply. Many states and localities have their own rules that are at least as protective as federal regulations.

Water monitoring delivers data used to manage water quality and signal the individual, company, community to existing, ongoing or emerging problems. It also facilitates compliance with federal and state water quality regulations.

While the US enjoys one of the world’s most reliable and safest supplies of drinking water, our water can sometimes become contaminated by various chemicals, inorganics, microbes, and radionuclides. These contaminants can enter water at the source or whilst traveling through the distribution system after being processed through the water treatment plant. Community water suppliers are required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to inform their customers if there are unsafe levels of contaminants in the water.

Common sources of drinking water contaminants:

  • Fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals that have been applied to land near the water
  • Water distribution systems materials (lead, copper)
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Malfunctioning treatment systems or sewer releases
  • Storm water runoff
  • Wildlife
  • Stagnant water within facility distribution system
  • Rocks and soil that naturally have chemicals and minerals such as arsenic, radon, and uranium

The danger of drinking water contamination is that unsafe levels of contaminants can cause mild to serious health effects such as gastrointestinal illnesses, nervous system or reproductive effects, and chronic diseases such as cancer. The degree of health effects is determined by the type of contaminant, its concentration in the water, amount of water consumed, and duration of exposure. Those most at risk for serious health effects from consuming contaminated drinking water are infants, young children, people who are pregnant, older adults, and people who have weakened immune systems.

Access to water and sanitation is classified as a human right. Even with federal and state doctrines and systems in place to ensure potable water, we have nonetheless witnessed US cities, such as Flint, become consumed by water sanitation endemics. Globally, water suitable for human consumption must be sufficient, safe, accessible, acceptable, and affordable.

A current challenge in the current water monitoring system is screening for “forever chemicals” or PFAS. These per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are long-lasting chemicals that breakdown slowly over time and have been widely used in household consumer products. PFAS pose health concerns for the general public and are the subject of numerous scientific studies attempting to determine their human health and environmental safety risks.

Monitoring data from consistent water testing and inspections is crucial for directing regulations to protect drinking water from chemical contamination. Until policies are finalized that curb the prevalence of chemicals like PFAS and other substances in the water supply, many Americans are still at risk.

Carnow Conibear monitors and evaluates drinking water, groundwater and surface water for many of our clients. If you are looking for assistance with the water in your area, please contact us and we would be happy to assist.