In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and as 2014 comes to a close, I wanted to take the time to express my thankfulness for a great accomplishment, as this year has marked 40 years of safe drinking water!
Here’s a little history lesson in case you didn’t know. In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to guarantee quality drinking water for Americans. Under the SDWA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for drinking water quality in America and ensures the states, localities and water suppliers meet these standards. There are a number of threats to drinking water, and for the past 40 years, the EPA has done an excellent job of protecting public health by targeting the sources of fresh drinking water: rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs and ground water wells.
Safe drinking water is central to our lives and to our health. Although the EPA and all water providers are responsible for keeping our drinking water safe, we as consumers can also take our own actions to protect our drinking water. Here’s the EPA’s list of how you can help protect water as well:
- Reduce paved areas: Use permeable surfaces that allow rain to soak in, not run off, like wood, brick and gravel for decks, patios and walkways.
- Reduce or eliminate pesticide application: Test your soil before applying chemicals, and design your lawn and garden with hardy plants that require little or no watering, fertilizers or pesticides.
- Reduce the amount of trash you create: Reuse containers, and recycle plastics, aluminum, and glass.
- Recycle used oil: A single quart of motor oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of drinking water; take used oil or antifreeze to a service station or recycling center.
- Take the bus instead of your car one day a week: On average, you will prevent 33 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per day.
- Keep pollutants away from boat marinas and the waterways: Keep boat motors well-tuned to prevent fuel and lubricant leaks; select nontoxic cleaning products and use a drop cloth, and clean and maintain boats away from the water.
By following these tips, you too can help protect our drinking water and public health, and contribute to another 40 years of safe drinking water!