Taps Turn Toxic as Clean Water Laws Ignored

Probe finds 500,000 violations of clean water laws in last 5 years
By Mat Probasco,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2009 5:53 AM CDT
The average American household uses almost 100 gallons of water each day, indoors alone.    (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)

(Newser) – Tap water in a shocking number of American communities is making people ill, rotting teeth, burning skin, and likely causing some cancers and birth defects, reports the New York Times. A lengthy Times investigation found that factories have violated clean water laws half a million times in five years and pumped toxins into groundwater that pours through America's taps. “I don’t think anyone realized how bad things have become,” said Minn. Rep. James Oberstar, whose House committee deals with water-quality issues.

“The Environmental Protection Agency and states have completely dropped the ball,” he said. Fewer than 3% of the law breakers have been fined or otherwise penalized as state officials ignore illegal dumping and the EPA opts not to step in. One in 10 Americans has ingested water that contains dangerous chemicals or fails to meet federal health standards. Last year, 40% of the nation’s community water systems violated the Safe Drinking Water Act at least once.