Drinking Water Quality Violations Widespread, Says New Report

Increasing time trends and violation hot spots in several states, particularly in Southwest region
Increasing time trends and violation hot spots in several states, particularly in Southwest region

HealthDay News — For drinking water quality violations, increasing time trends and violation hot spots have been identified in several states, especially in the Southwest, according to a study published online February 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Noting that in 2015, nearly 21 million people relied on community water systems that violated health-based quality standards, Maura Allaire, PhD, from the University of California in Irvine, and colleagues examined spatial and temporal patterns in health-related violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act using a panel dataset of 17,900 community water systems during 1982 to 2015. Vulnerability factors of communities and water systems were identified through probit regression. 

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The researchers identified increasing time trends and violation hot spots in several states, especially in the Southwest region. In locations of violation hot spots, repeat violations were prevalent, indicating that water systems struggle with recurring issues in these regions. Violation incidence in rural areas was considerably higher than in urbanized areas in terms of vulnerability factors. Private ownership and purchased water source were associated with compliance.

"Overall, this study informs a more directed approach to increase compliance with drinking water quality regulations. While quality violations are generally infrequent, some do reflect a risk to human health," the authors write. "Identifying hot spots and vulnerability factors associated with violations can allow public policies to target underperforming water systems. Reducing water quality violations can lead to improved health outcomes and less disparity in water service."

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