WASHINGTON — Federal drinking water rules are so relaxed that not even the city of Flint, Michigan, has been cited for a violation, even though many Flint residents have been relying on bottled water for drinking and cooking since last year.
The Natural Resources Defense Council said Tuesday that 18 million Americans got water from systems that violated federal standards last year, according to federal data.
And the environmental advocacy group said an untold number of water systems break the rules without landing in the Environmental Protection Agency’s database of water regulation goofs — including Flint.
“Flint’s absence in the federal data system raises the question: If Flint’s extraordinary lead contamination problems are not included in the EPA’s official compliance data,” the NRDC’s report says, “how many other municipalities’ serious lead problems are being swept under the rug by officials responsible for protecting public health?”
An EPA spokeswoman noted it’s up to states to notify the agency of drinking water violations by municipal water systems.
“EPA recognizes there are ongoing challenges in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule and is working closely with states, who under the Safe Drinking Water Act are the first line of oversight of drinking water systems and take the majority of enforcement actions,” the spokeswoman said in an email. The Lead and Copper Rule is the main federal regulation for limiting lead levels in public drinking water. Read More