Here are some facts and statistics that provide an overview of tap water systems and the quality of drinking water in the United States.

  1. The average person consumes around 183 gallons of water per year, equivalent to 2,920 glasses.


  1. In 2007, approximately 5.8 million children in the S. drank from public water systems that violated at least 1 federal health standard. (Heyworth, 2011)


  1. The CDC estimates there are 33 million cases of gastrointestinal illness in the S. associated with water systems.


  1. Smaller water systems typically have more issues than big ones. For example, lead testing done by the EPA from 2010 to 2016 found the percentage of systems with lead that exceeded allowable levels varied by utility size:


  • Utilities serving less than 3,000 customers: 9.8%
  • 3,301 to 10,000: 8.5%
  • 10,001 to 100,000: 6.2%
  • Greater than 100,000: 3.9% (Ungar & Nichols, 2016)


  1. Approximately 4 million Americans get their water from small operators who either routinely skip required tests or don’t administer these tests properly. (ibid) Testing costs around $50 per tap, and utilities must test anywhere from 5 to 20 locations depending on the number of people they serve.


  1. A 2013 EPA estimate showed that infrastructure needs for small water systems alone would total $64.5 billion over the next 20 years, yet the fund allocated less than $1 billion in 2016 for water systems of all sizes. (Ungar & Nichols, 2016) There’s simply not enough money being allocated to keep up with needs.

  1. Approximately 43 million people, or around 14% of the nation’s population, rely on their own water supply (such as a private well) for water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. (Barber, 2014)


  1. When the USGS conducted tests on private wells, it found more than 20% of them contained unsafe levels of at least 1 contaminant. (The sample included 2,100 wells across 30 aquifers in 48 states.) In one subset of wells tested, fecal contamination was found in as many as one-third. (ibid)


  1. At least 140 million people in Asia are drinking arsenic-contaminated water, often from naturally-occurring sources. (Daigle, 2016)