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Water: Protecting Drinking Water

Protect Your Drinking Water for Life

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People who travel abroad know the familiar problem with unsafe drinking water. At home, we scarcely give it a thought. Usually, we are right. But the sources of our drinking water are constantly under siege from naturally occurring events and human activities that can pollute our sources of drinking water.

Did you know?

  • In the United States, water utilities treat nearly 34 billion gallons of water every day
  • In the United States and Canada, the total miles of water pipeline and aqueducts equal approximately one million miles; enough to circle the globe 40 times
  • Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day
  • Children in the first six months of life consume seven times as much water per pound as the average American adult.
  • For some statistics on public drinking water systems and more see the folowing facts and figures page.

Safe drinking water relies on all of us. Do your part to get to know it and protect it

Be Informed!

water Be Informed with these Links!

  • Read the annual Consumer Confidence Report provided by your public water system, sometimes referred to as a Water Quality Report.
  • Use information from your state's Source Water Assessment to learn about potential threats to your water source.
  • Has your state identified all shallow disposal wells?
  • Does your state have total maximum daily loads for those contaminants that may pose risks to drinking water?
  • Find out whether the Clean Water Act's water quality standards for your drinking water source protect your tap water, in addition to aquatic life and swimmers.
  • If you are one of the 15 percent of Americans who have their own source of drinking water, such as well, cistern, or spring, you are responsible for protecting your water supply. Find out what activities are taking place in your watershed that may impact your drinking water; talk with local experts, test your water periodically, maintain your well, and close it properly.
Be Observant!
water Be Observant with these Links!
  • Look around your watershed and be alert to announcements in the local media for activities that may pollute your source water.
  • If you see any suspicious activities in or around your water supply, please notify the local authorities or call 9-1-1 immediately and report the incident.
Be Involved!


  • water Be More Involved with these Links!
    Read local newspapers to stay informed.
  • Attend public hearings on new construction, storm water permitting, and town planning.
  • Keep your public officials accountable.
  • Ask to see their environmental impact statement.
  • Ask questions on any issue that may impact your water source. What specific plans have been made to prevent the contamination of your water source? Notices about hearings often appear in the newspaper or in government office buildings.
  • Participate with your state, or tribal and water system at they make funding decisions.
  • Volunteer or help recruit volunteers: participate in your community's contaminant monitoring activities, and encourage testing water upstream of your drinking water supply.
  • Help ensure that local utilities that protect your water have adequate resources to do their job.
Don't Contaminate!


water Help Prevent Contamination!


  • Reduce paved areas: Use permeable surfaces that allow rain to soak in, not run off, like wood, brick and gravel for decks, patios and walkways.
  • Reduce or eliminate pesticide application: Test your soil before applying chemicals, and design your lawn and garden with hardy plants that require little or no watering, fertilizers or pesticides.
  • Reduce the amount of trash you create: Reuse containers, recycle plastics, aluminum, and glass.
  • Recycle used oil: A single quart of motor oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of drinking water; take used oil or antifreeze to a service station or recycling center.
  • Take the bus instead of your car one day a week: On average, you will prevent 33 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per day. Be careful what you put into your septic system: Harmful chemicals may end up in your drinking water.
  • Keep pollutants away from boat marinas and the waterways: Keep boat motors well-tuned to prevent fuel and lubricant leaks; select nontoxic cleaning products and use a drop cloth, and clean and maintain boats away from the water.
More Links


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