Whenever I tell people that I work on water issues, the first thing they ask me is (usually), “So, do you drink tap water?” I guess it’s one of those things where people like to think they’re hearing an inside perspective – if someone who knows about water still drinks it, it must be O.K. My answer, if you’re curious, is that yes, I drink tap water. Not because the tap water is perfect, but because if we’re honest with ourselves, we come into contact with thousands of chemicals in our daily lives. Water probably isn’t the most dangerous thing that we encounter. That said, it isn’t always as clean as we’d like to think.
If you want the REAL answer about water quality, though – don’t worry – someone already thought about that and can tell you exactly what you need to know (and it’s not me). By someone, I actually mean the authors of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and EPA. The Consumer Confidence Rule under the SDWA requires that all community and public water systems that serve the same population year-round publish an annual Consumer Confidence Report summarizing the state of the water quality in their area. In your area CCR, you can find information about where your drinking water is coming from (lake, river, stream, or other body of water) and details about any contaminants or problems that may have been found in the water. They’re available online and are due to consumers by July 1st of every year.