Today’s lesson in who Is trying to kill you takes us to municipal water supplies, where violations of the nation’s Clean Water Act have now become rampant. According to a harrowing report by the New York Times, polluters have violated the act over a half million times in the last five years, dumping heavy metals (lead, nickel) and other dangerous chemicals into the water, usually without recourse.
What’s a half million to you?
In the nation’s largest dairy states, like Wisconsin and California, farmers have sprayed liquefied animal feces onto fields, where it has seeped into wells, causing severe infections. Tap water in parts of the Farm Belt, including cities in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana, has contained pesticides at concentrations that some scientists have linked to birth defects and fertility problems.
In parts of New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, California and other states where sewer systems cannot accommodate heavy rains, untreated human waste has flowed into rivers and washed onto beaches. Drinking water in parts of New Jersey, New York, Arizona and Massachusetts shows some of the highest concentrations of tetrachloroethylene, a dry cleaning solvent that has been linked to kidney damage and cancer.
It’s worth pointing out that the Times got the half million figure by counting reports submitted by polluters themselves; it includes only instances of polluting that companies admit to. So the actual number is bound to be higher.
What’s more, according to the Times research, “fewer than 3 percent of Clean Water Act violations resulted in fines or other significant punishments by state officials.”
Parts of West Virginia are so bad that bottled water for drinking and bathing has to be trucked in. Only in America can you find 20 different brands of “green” detergent in grocery stores while lacking safe tap water.
Related: How To Get Clean Tap Water
Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering [The New York Times]
(Photo: Barbara Doduk)