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Tainted Tap Water Sickens 1.1 Million Each Year

Viruses Creep Into Public Water Supplies Through Leaky Pipes

Public Water Infrastructure Problems

Researchers were concerned about what happens to water on its way to the tap because much of the public water infrastructure in the U.S. is in a state of disrepair. In a 2009 report, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s drinking water systems a D- grade and stressed the need for more money to replace crumbling facilities and plumbing.

To make matters worse, Borchardt says many pipes that carry drinking water are laid close to lines that carry untreated sewage. Like the water pipes, the sewer lines are also often not in great shape.

“If you dig up soil around drinking water pipes, you can find all sorts of pathogens that come from leaking sewer lines,” Borchardt says. Pressure changes may then suck some of those disease-causing germs into the drinking water.

Advice for Safer Tap Water

Smaller towns and rural areas are more likely than larger cities not to disinfect their water. To find out if your water is disinfected or not, contact your municipal water supplier.

If you live in a community where groundwater isn’t disinfected, Loge says there are home systems that can be installed to clean water before you drink it.

Those systems range from $100 to $500 in price and usually need to be professionally installed.

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