You have a little something in your water

Rabia Choudhry


Umraan Amjed takes a refreshing drink from the water fountain after an intense workout at the new fitness center on campus. Many students drink from water fountains and refill their water bottles from the tap regularly. Photo taken by Becca Flynn.

Water is the most essential part of our lives.  We use so much water for various tasks that we don’t even think about where and how that water reached us?  I started thinking about water after watching Julia Robert’s movie “Erin Brockovich” in which people were getting sick because their drinking water was polluted with chromium due to nearby industry’s waste.

What many don’t realize is that the water we drink might not be as clean as we think.  Recently, in an article from Scientific America, Melinda Wenner Moyer raised the question of whether our tap water is safe to drink or not? Melinda Moyer claimed that government and EPA may not be doing enough to purify our tap water.  EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency and is responsible of making sure that our water and air don’t have pollutants that are dangerous for our health.

But is EPA taking care of supplying us with purified water?

Melinda Moyer says, “Since 1996, EPA has been required to make regulatory decisions about five new pollutants each year, ruling on those that might pose the biggest threats to public health.  The GAO report asserts that the agency has been ruling only on the “low-hanging fruit”-contaminants for which regulatory decisions are easy rather than those that might be the most dangerous.”

If it is EPA’s duty to detect the harmful chemicals since 1996 and EPA is not carrying out its duty, then why didn’t anyone take actions yet?  Moreover, the article talks about the insensitive testing methods that EPA uses to determine the amount of pollutant in water which can’t identify the contaminants at the level which are dangerous to health. Testing methodology and technology should not be a major problem in this modern era.

Everyone has the right to have clean water for good health.  If there are some problems with its purification, the public has the right to know them.  All of us are paying for water bills so that we can have access to purified tap water, but if that money is not used for cleaning water, there is a big issue.

On the other hand, EPA said that the agency does not need to make any changes in their methods of detecting the contaminants. EPA agrees that they need to make improvements communicating with public and letting them know if there are any health related risks with tap water.  More research is needed to see if EPA is working to purify water.

No compromises should be made when it comes to drinking water for health purposes.