Science & Tech

State of U.S. public health drinking water reliable

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But billions in repairs needed to maintain system through this century

“Over the last century, the U.S. has set the world standard for ensuring a reliable, relatively safe drinking water supply to the general public,” said Ronnie B. Levin, a research scientist in the Environmental Epidemiology Program at the Harvard School of Public Health. “But population demands, continuing scientific research and past public policy have created serious challenges for our public water supplies in the next century. The longer we delay, the higher the price tag will be. There are no surprises here.” Levin and colleagues wrote an article, “U.S. Drinking Water Challenges in the Twenty-First Century,” offering a “state of the state” review of the nation’s public drinking water systems. The researchers describe how reliable and safe water is available to nearly all 270 million U.S. residents. But, they also find that maintenance and repair of the public water infrastructure has been severely neglected. The article appears in the February 2002 supplement issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, Reviews in Environmental Health.