Friday, January 10, 2014

What if Your Tap Water Wasn't Safe?

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Program Manager

Drinking water made headlines this morning, and not in a good way. Nearly 200,000 people in West Virginia are being told not to use their tap water for any purpose, due to a chemical spill in the Elk River that contaminated the Kanawha Valley water system.

The chemical spilled was 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, which is harmful if swallowed, and is used to wash coal before it goes to market ( 

This story is another reminder of how much we all take our water supply for granted - we turn on the tap and don't give it another thought. What if the water coming from that tap suddenly wasn't safe? Water infrastructure is vital to our everyday lives and our wellbeing, not to mention a foundation for our communities and our way of life.
The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the infrastructure investment needed across the U.S. by 2020 is $3.6 trillion ( and gives the overall infrastructure a D on its national report card.
Clearly there are issues that need addressing. While the incident in West Viriginia isn't specifically related to infrastructure, it highlights the vital role safe drinking water has in our lives. What if we suddenly had to rely on bottled water to drink? Or water supply tankers for our household water use?
Have you or your community faced a situation when the tap water was unsafe? How did you handle it?

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