Many of you, when you travel to a new country might wonder, if you can drink tap water in that country or not. If you from Asia, many do not suggest to drink tap water directly and they suggest to use a water filter or some purification mechanism. But, when you go to developed countries like US or any country in Europe, you may get a different response from the people there… I travel quite a bit for work and usually check on water quality and regulations from locals who live in that country. In this article, we will focus on safety of drinking water from tap in America.
Can we drink Tap Water in USA ? Is it Safe ? Regulations ?
Yes, in general, tap water is safe to drink in USA in most of the places. You do not need to use any separate filtering process or water filters for the same. Yes, tap water in US is safe from health stand point as well. The reason you can count on the safety of tap water in US is due to the regulations set in place by US Environmental protection Agency( EPA) for public drinking water.
As per the Safe Drinking Water Act in America, EPA sets standards for safe drinking water. In fact, I did quite a bit of research on this, when I was studying MBA as part of my AMA’s case study on UNICEF Tap Project . The funny thing is that, the study shows that tap water is much more safe than bottle water, the reason is that tap water is regulated by US EPA, where as bottle water is not…
How Safety of Tap Water is enforced in US ?
The Safe Drinking Water Act is a regulation passed by the US government to provide safe drinking water for all US residents. It is a federal law and provides power to US States to set their own standards for safe drinking water. The general guidelines are established in the Safe Drinking Water Act ( SWDA ) like how much chemicals can be in there, microbial contaminants, etc.
One key thing is that, the federal law only applies to public community or public water system ( PWS), which states that there should be at least 15 service connections or 25 individuals. I am sure most of the placed people live are communities of size at least 25, so you should be covered. If you are not going to be in a community of the minimum size as listed, then there is no protection or rules for safe drinking water.
Can I drink tap water in Hotels, Airports, Malls in US?
Yes, all the tap water that comes out of the water fountains in Hotels, Airports, Malls are safe to drink. It also includes tap water in Apartments as well. All of these fall under the Public Water system(PWS) definition of US EPA and regulated by SWDA. So, they all are subject to the compliance and you can be assured to drink safe tap water.
If you are not comfortable drinking tap water directly, you can use a small filter that tags on to the tap and just filtering…I personally do not see the need…but, if you want to you can….
Flint Water Crisis in Michigan – Impact for Tap Water ?
There was a big crisis in Flint, Michigan, when they switched water supply in 2014 and changed it with water from Flint River, which historically had contaminated water. The local govt was not treating the water well and sent water that is not as per EPA standards. Also, they use Lead pipes that resulted in high lead content in water that caused many issues. Overall, it was a big health crisis and there were lawsuits and final settlements on the same. You can read Flint Water Crisis History . The court ordered City Govt to supply bottled water to residents until they resolve it.
The key message from Flint Water Crisis is that, mistakes are possible at times with public water system, when some issues are overlooked. There were no significant issues reported with Tap Water in the past, until the Flint Crisis in 2014. So, in general, you are fine to drink from tap water in US, but it is always wise to double check with locals, if the local tap water is safe or any issues.
What has been your experience with drinking water in USA ?
Image Credits : http://pixabay.com/en/drop-faucet-tap-water-waterdrop-158968/