The recent chemical spill into parts of West Virginia’s water supply, combined with similar past issues across the country, have many questioning the safety of their water.
Recently, more than 300,000 West Virginia residents went 5 days without tap water while a 7,500-gallon chemical spill into a Charleston-area river was being cleaned. This incident, combined with similar past issues across the country, have many questioning the safety of their water.
Not being able to shower, cook, brush teeth, or do laundry, among other tasks served as a harsh reminder to many West Virginia residents of how thankful they are for usable running water. However, the worst city water contamination happened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1993 when a broken filter allowed a parasite to spread, killing 69 people and infecting 400,000 others. Annually, over 10,000 dangerous spills of everything from sewage to rocket fuel infect water supplies nationwide.
While state and federal officials responded promptly with aid and investigation into the causes of all these spills, critics argue it’s much easier to protect our water sources from contamination proactively instead of having to clean up disasters afterwards.
A challenge is that each city, county, and local municipality must implement federal and state laws, but often don’t have recourse with the many safety threats. To overcome that issue, some cities are buying land next to water sources so potential pollutants can’t move in, or investing in the latest treatment systems.