Frequently Asked Questions - Is Tap Water Safe?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many people are affected by unsafe tap water?

A: The EPA has said that 8% percent of tap water fails to meet their standards. According to Newsweek, that means up to 209 million glasses of unsafe tap water are consumed by Americans–every single day.


Q: Who regulates public water systems?

A. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of overseeing the water quality of your tap water under the Safe Drinking Water Act. States and local governments have their own water authorities and utility regulations.


Q: How do I know if my tap water is safe?

A. Visit the EPA state database here to see what contaminants are in your tap water.


Q: Is there a database that houses all of the boil water advisories in the U.S.?

A. Yes, the Center for Accountability in Science developed a database detailing local boil water advisories. You can view it here. A boil water advisory is a notice issued, generally in a locality, about potentially unsafe drinking water.


Q: What are some of the common contaminants found in tap water?

A. Your tap water may contain the contaminants, including fecal bacteria, chemical disinfectants, lead and copper, arsenic, pesticides, nitrites and nitrates, radioactive nuclides, and more.


Q: Does my household filter remove all contaminants from tap water?

A. No single water filter will remove all contaminants from your water. Common household filters, such as a pitcher filter, can remove heavy metals like lead, but most cannot remove small bacteria, like E. coli.


Q: Does boiling water remove all contaminants from tap water?

A. Boiling water can remove bacteria, like E. coli, but it cannot remove heavy metals, like lead.


Q: What are the main causes for boil water advisories around the US?

A. Aging and poor infrastructure is the number one cause for water main breaks and leaks around the United States. estimates there are 240,000 water main breaks per year. Water main breaks and leaks cause a loss of water pressure, allowing contaminants to seep in through cracks.


Q: How will I be notified of a boil water advisory?

A. There is no standard operating procedure to notify residents of a boil water advisory. Local authorities will sometimes knock on your door to notify you of a boil water advisory, alerts are published to local newspapers and websites, or you may get an automated phone call. In some cases, communities have not notified of boil water advisories for days.


Q: Typically, how long do boil water advisories last?

A. On average, boil water advisories last anywhere between 1 to 2 days. In some cases, they can last much longer. In Keystone, West Virginia residents have been under a boil water advisory for the last eight years.


Q: How should I prepare my home for a loss of clean drinking water?

A., recommends storing at least one gallon of commercially available water per person per day for three days, for drinking and sanitation.