Title

Rural America's Drinking Water Crisis

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

10-9-2019

ISSN

0046-8185

Publisher

ABA

Language

en-US

Abstract

While Flint, Michigan, rightfully captures headlines, another water crisis affecting millions of Americans continues to go largely unnoticed. All across rural America, small community water systems are failing to protect public health due to a perfect storm of forces. Poor regulation of agricultural waste and other pollutants, shrinking populations, and aging infrastructure all contribute to the increasing incidents of water quality violations dotting the rural landscape. There are nearly 60 thousand community water systems in the United States and 93 percent of them serve populations of fewer than 10,000 people—67 percent serve populations of fewer than 500 people. In 2015, 9 percent of all water systems had a documented violation of water quality standards, exposing 21 million people to unhealthy drinking water. These violations were more likely to occur in rural areas, where communities often have trouble finding the funds to maintain their systems.

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