The Safe Drinking Water Act (the Act) marked a pivotal moment in public health, ushering in crucial regulatory changes and water treatment protocols that significantly improved the quality of drinking water. However, over 2 million Americans still today do not have dependable access to safe drinking water. Small, rural, and disadvantaged communities are particularly vulnerable, facing increased threats from unsafe and unreliable water sources. As the Act enters its sixth decade, it is essential that upgrading deteriorating infrastructure and eradicating microbial and other known contaminants in drinking water are a top priority.

Girl turns on faucet to pour clean drinking water

Safe Drinking Water Act Insights

Person fills up cup of tap drinking water

Unsung Heroes of the Safe Drinking Water Act: Paul G. Rogers

We’re excited to announce our Safe Drinking Water Act 50 series: the Unsung Heroes of the Safe Drinking Water Act! First up is Representative Paul G. Rogers. He worked as a Democratic representative for 24 years in West Palm Beach, Florida, and was the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment.

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Safe Drinking Water Act 50th Anniversary Campaign: Rob Renner

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, we sat down with some of our council members to learn more about the history of this act and to hear their perspectives on how the future should look to keep drinking water safe. In our first video, Council Chair Rob Renner discusses the importance of maintaining water infrastructure and how achieving the greatest public health impact should always be the main priority of water systems today.

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Safe-Affordable-Drinking-Water

Providing Clean, Safe and Affordable Drinking Water for all Americans

New contaminants’ health risks must be substantiated if they are to take resources away from long-standing contaminant risks. Replacing aging infrastructure isn’t glamorous and doesn’t have the allure of addressing a contaminant with a pseudonym in air quotes, but it is critical to protecting drinking water and public health in the long term.

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“It is remarkable to reflect on the progress we have made providing safe drinking water in our nation. In the next 50 years, it is essential that we prioritize improvements to our drinking water infrastructure that meaningfully reduce public health risks and extend access to safe drinking water to more individuals. We must remain vigilant in addressing the most pressing public health risks in our drinking water.”

Rob Renner, Chair of the Council

Campaign will convene experts to provide critical guidance on the future of drinking water safety

The Water & Health Advisory Council (the Council), a multidisciplinary group of drinking water experts, today announced the launch of a national campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide guidance to lawmakers on the future of drinking water safety in the United States. The campaign will showcase public health successes achieved by the Safe Drinking Water Act and illuminate regulatory actions that have veered from the law’s original intent. Throughout 2024, the Council will promote multimedia testimonials from drinking water, public health and elected officials; host local events in select municipalities and conclude with a symposium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (the Act) marked a pivotal moment in public health, ushering in crucial regulatory changes and water treatment protocols that significantly improved the quality of drinking water. However, over 2 million Americans still today do not have dependable access to safe drinking water. Small, rural, and disadvantaged communities are particularly vulnerable, facing increased threats from unsafe and unreliable water sources. As the Act enters its sixth decade, it is essential that upgrading deteriorating infrastructure and eradicating microbial and other known contaminants in drinking water are a top priority.

“It is remarkable to reflect on the progress we have made providing safe drinking water in our nation,” said Rob Renner, Chair of the Council. “In the next 50 years, it is essential that we prioritize improvements to our drinking water infrastructure that meaningfully reduce public health risks and extend access to safe drinking water to more individuals. We must remain vigilant in addressing the most pressing public health risks in our drinking water,” emphasized Renner.

A recent report from Utah State University revealed a $452 billion shortfall in crucial funding required to modernize the network of pipes delivering tap water to households nationwide. The report also highlighted the occurrence of over 260,000 breaks in these water pipelines annually. Regrettably, federal and state resources designated for safeguarding drinking water safety often prioritize emerging, attention-grabbing concerns, leaving well-documented risks unaddressed.

The SDWA 50th Anniversary campaign will culminate with a symposium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, bringing together water sector leaders, academic researchers, and community leaders to issue guidance for achieving reliable and safe drinking water into the future. “The SDWA led to great strides in public health over the past fifty years, but too many communities and regulatory agencies lack the capacity to ensure safe, reliable, and sustainable water,” said Manny Teodoro, Robert F. and Sylvia T. Wagner Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The challenge ahead is to get the basics right: sound distribution systems, robust utility organizations, and effective implementation of existing regulations, everywhere and for everyone.”

Although we face many challenges in supplying safe, reliable and accessible drinking water in the U.S. today, supporting our local and diverse communities using sound science-based policies, and prioritizing the threats to public health can help pave a better future of public drinking water.

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