Thanks to the Safe Drinking Water Act, every water utility is required to directly provide each of its customers with an annual report on the quality of the drinking water it provides; the report is usually mailed out once a year with a monthly water bill. Act now to ensure you continue to receive these important reports and request that they be made easier to understand and use.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a new proposal that could allow water companies to stop mailing the reports to households directly; instead, the water companies could just give customers a web address that contains the information.
This may sound harmless, but it’s a bad idea. Almost a third of American households don’t have broadband Internet access at home, and the households that don’t (rural and low-income families) just happen to be the people whose water is most likely to be at risk of contamination.
Please tell EPA that everyone should know their drinking water is safe and that you want your water company to provide everyone with accurate information about the purity of the local water supply — not just people with Internet access.
EPA should not weaken the requirement that water companies directly report each year on the purity of the water they supply to every household that uses it.
The agency should also take this opportunity to improve the way the information in the reports is presented so it is easier for average citizens to understand and use.
The most important improvement EPA could make to the water quality reports is to make them easier to understand, so families recognize what they’re reading and can determine whether the water they drink has gotten cleaner or more contaminated from one year to the next. Currently, the reports are often highly technical and hard to understand. EPA needs to design a standard report template with a simplified display similar to those it has created for air quality warnings and miles-per-gallon ratings on cars.