New CDC Report Shines Spotlight On Link Between the Water We Drink and Public Health
A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes staggering numbers about pathogens connected to waterborne illnesses, shining a spotlight on the links between America’s water infrastructure, water quality and public health. The CDC found that more than 7.1 million waterborne illnesses occur every year, resulting in more than 600,000 visits to emergency rooms, 6,630 deaths and $3.33 billion in direct health care costs.
While the CDC finds that transmission of pathogens through large public drinking water systems has decreased over the past four decades, it still occurs and is “attributable to aging infrastructure, operational challenges, and…unregulated water systems (e.g., private wells) that serve an estimated 43 million persons.”
The report provides further proof of the importance of investing in water infrastructure to protect public health. America’s water companies are leading the way with operational expertise and strategic infrastructure investment to ensure their customers receive the highest quality water. Data from the US Environmental Protection Agency show that the water provided by water companies is of higher quality – measured in terms of compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act – than that provided by government-run systems. And every year, America’s water companies collectively invest billions into their water systems to ensure that water is safe and service is reliable.
One of the alarming points from the CDC analysis is about biofilm that can form within water infrastructure – even our own home’s plumbing system – and can lead to a variety of diseases and infections. As experts in water quality, NAWC members take proactive steps to address the biofilm challenge within their own systems. For example, NAWC member company Cal Water’s active flushing program and nitrification procedure helps control biofilm formation within the company’s distribution systems.
There are also measures that can be taken at home to keep our plumbing free from biofilm. The CDC recommends flushing faucets and showerheads if they haven’t been used for a long period of time, increasing the temperature on hot water heaters and regularly disinfecting devices in our homes that use water, like humidifiers.