Water Violations Predominately Impact Low-Income And Rural Americans
Water violations are most often given to water systems serving low-income and rural areas. These violations are often indications of problems that will affect the health of those served by the water system and indicate the inequality in access to clean water in the U.S. Many of the problems facing low-income and rural water systems result from a lack of proper oversight and funding. Flint, Michigan is a recent example of the end result of this trend.
During 2015, over 21 million people received water from a system subject to a health-based water violation. These violations covered a range of health issues, including the presence of E. coli contamination, arsenic, lead, and copper. The NRDC estimates that over 18 million Americans are serviced by water containing lead in levels above the EPA’s requirements for water quality.
There are clear solutions to the issue of water quality for low-income and rural communities. First, water systems must have better oversight and management. The lead contamination in Flint was the direct result of criminal management, and such issues may be solved by giving residents greater input into the management of their water systems. Second, investment into small water systems is critical. Smaller systems often lack the funding for necessary water treatment technology. Allowing these systems to access and maintain the appropriate technology can ensure that millions of Americans are not subject to unnecessary health risks from their water.
Finally, we must have greater regulation of industries to ensure that pollution is appropriately limited and managed. Rural systems are often inundated by industrial waste, while agricultural runoff affects both rural and urban systems. A focus on the source of pollution can reduce the load water systems are required to handle.