Water is as the liquid people drink to sustain life but its commercial viability and quality in some American cities have become an issue of concern to experts of the substance.

The adult human body consists of 60 percent water and, according to H.H. Mitchell, a writer for the Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, humans must consume a certain amount of water to survive on a daily basis. How much a human being drinks depends on the age, gender and location, Mitchell said.

The selling of bottled water as opposed tap water has become a topic of discussion among water professionals.

Water: Bottled vs. Tap

Kate Taylor, in a Feb. 7 article “9 Frightening Reasons to Stop Drinking Bottled Water Today” published on the website Little Things, said drinking bottled water “is something we all are guilty of, but many of us don’t even know that it’s something to feel guilty about in the first place.”

“In fact, drinking bottled water has almost become a way of life for many Americans.” Taylor said. “People are skeptical of tap water and think it’s not as safe as drinking water. Some people refuse to drink tap water simply because they don’t like the taste.”

Taylor said the distaste for tap water doesn’t have a lot of basis in fact, noting that the Safe Water Drinking Act mandates that all public tap water be drinkable and taste well. She notes that bottled water doesn’t face the same type of governmental scrutiny and its reputation of being pure exists as an illusion.

“In reality, you have no idea how well the water was treated,” she said.

Municipal water goes through a lot of tests before coming out of our taps, Taylor said.

“Some cities even require that water be tested up to 100 times a month,” she said.

Amid this discourse, stories about cities with dirty, unhealthy water have emerged, with particular cities as Flint, Mich., and Newark, N.J., at the forefront on why such conditions either took place or prevail.

Dirty Water Cities

Aria Bendix, an environmental writer for the Business Insider website, wrote an article “11 Cities with the Worst Tap Water in the U.S.” in its March 19, 2019, edition. Bendix cited the instant of Flint as an egregious example of polluted water available for public consumption.

“That was the reality for residents of Flint, Mich., in 2014, when lead from aging pipes seeped into their water system, effectively poisoning an entire community,” Bendix said.

Saying that Flint “wasn’t an isolated occurrence,” she said “between nine million and 45 million Americans got their drinking water from a source that violated the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency.”

“While rural areas are the most contaminated, a few major cities have struggled to renovate their aging pipes and enforce safe standards among local jurisdictions,” she said.

Among the cities Bendix cites for high levels of lead contamination are Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Detroit and Newark. Pittsburgh also had low levels of chlorine in its water supply, while Baltimore grapples with toxic particles in its Druid Lake Reservoir, in addition to elevated lead in some of its public schools, she said.

Bendix said “D.C.’s legacy of contamination dates back to the early 2000s, when Marc Edwards — the same man who sounded the alarm on the Flint water crisis — warned residents of elevated levels of lead in their drinking water.”

“By 2016, around 12,000 D.C. buildings were still getting their water from lead pipes,” she said. “Many of the homes at risk of contamination are located in older, less affluent neighborhoods. On average, homeowners will have to pay around $2,500 to have their lead pipes removed.”

The dirty water in these cities and others have drawn the attention of advocates such as Jon Devine, director of the federal water policy, water division, nature program of the Natural Resource Defense Council, an environmental advocacy organization. Devine has criticized the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken the Clean Water Act through curtailing its regulation of bodies of water.

“With this rollback, the Trump administration has made it easier for these waters to be polluted or destroyed,” Devine said in a Jan. 28 blog. “That’s important because the rule targets streams, wetlands, lakes and other water that filter pollution, serves as nurseries for fish, act as natural flood barriers, and feeds tens of millions of people drinking water supplies.”

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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