States are flouting their duty to report health violations in drinking water to such an extent that Environmental Protection Agency audits of 43 states found that 84 percent of violations were not reported in 2009, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review.
The GAO said the findings undermine the reliability of data collected under the Safe Drinking Water Act, The Washington Post
reported. The GAO, which did not break down the findings by state, noted that U.S. drinking water is among the safest in the world, but “waterborne-disease outbreaks caused by ¬microorganisms do still occur,” the Post reported.
The GAO reported that “11 states had 20 outbreaks of illness associated with drinking water in 2005 and 2006 that resulted in 612 illnesses and four deaths,” according to the Post.
“They say that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — but when it comes to drinking water, it turns out that, all too often, EPA has no idea whether it’s broke,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., a member of the Natural Resources Committee.
The EPA “needs complete and accurate data” to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water, the Post quoted the GAO report as saying. It also recommended that the EPA resume data collection, discontinued in 2009, that shows whether states are reporting violations accurately.
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