Did you know that what you do in and around your home can affect not only the quality of your water but also the quality of your neighbor's water?
Safe drinking water is essential to a community's quality of life and continued economic growth. Yet citizens may not always be aware of safe drinking water issues in their community and may not realize what needs to be done to protect drinking water and keep it safe for their families and businesses.
Drinking water supplies across the country are being contaminated daily by common activities, such as pouring motor oil and household chemicals down drains, using too much pesticides and fertilizers, and littering streets with refuse that will eventually run off into rivers and streams. When water supplies are not safe, the health of the community - especially of the young, the old, and the sick - is jeopardized.
In addition, communities may experience a loss of tax revenues from real estate and new jobs as businesses refuse to locate to or remain in communities with known or suspected water contamination problems.
Protecting drinking water sources is the first line of defense in ensuring safe drinking water. If communities are aware of their drinking water sources and of potential threats to these sources and their watersheds, they can take steps to keep the sources safe and improve their local environment. There is something everyone - from retirees to school kids to individuals in their homes - can do to help.
Why should watersheds matter to me?
While folks may not always realize it, they place a high value on healthy watersheds. Without proper watershed management, communities across the nation are experiencing similar problems, including drinking water contamination, increased flooding, and a loss of natural areas.
Since the beginning of time, a safe and dependable source of water has been a major factor in where people settled. Currently, humans depend on wells, springs, reservoirs, lakes, streams and rivers for our ever-expanding need for water.
Once a water source is located, we usually do not question its safety and dependability. If the drinking water looks good, tastes good and smells good, we assume it is safe to drink. Progress, however, has not left water in its natural state. In the last century, both population and business activity have exploded.
Yet there is no more fresh water today than there was a million years ago. While 70 percent of the earth is covered with water, 97 percent is salt water. Of the three percent that is fresh water, approximately two thirds is frozen and unavailable for use.
Industry, agriculture and the growth of cities have all contributed to greater use and greater contamination of water sources. Many places in this country face a critical water shortage, at the same time that the quality of their water is at risk.
Until recently, public water systems have relied on testing and treatment to provide safe drinking water. The passage of the SDWA brings a new focus on prevention and protection. Source water protection is the first line in preventing drinking water contamination and the cornerstone of efforts to save future costs in treatment and possible replacement of local water supplies.