A New York Times study found that nearly 20% of Americans drink dirty water from contaminated reservoirs that are filled with arsenic, dangerous bacteria, and even uranium.
In New York alone, 205 water systems have violated the clean drinking water laws but have never been punished because the federal government has often not enforced those laws under Bush. In every case of a violation, the government was notified.
According to the New York Times, less than 6% of violators were punished in any way despite the fact that as many as 19 million in the United States get sick from dirty or contaminated drinking water.
One example of this is Ramsey, NJ where studies found that the drinking water contained not just arsenic but a dry cleaning chemical called tetrachloroethylene. They were not punished.
In other cases, the E.P.A. found that drinking water contained 2,000% more radium than legally allowed.
This phenomenon comes from two places, deregulation and politics.
Since the nineties brought deregulation to industries and the Bush Administration began to greatly weaken environmental protection laws, the amount of chemicals in the water has skyrocketed and many water systems have gone for more than five years without warning or punishment or even aid to clean up the water despite the vast amounts of dangerous bacteria and chemicals that have been detected in the water.
At the same time, the federal government has been reluctant to fine or punish these water systems because many of these towns would not be able to pay large government fines. While it sounds reasonable in principle, those systems continue to pump dangerous water into our homes.
The E.P.A. is supposedly getting ready to create greater restrictions on drinking water. It is left to be seen how much of the damage done by the White House and Congress over the last fifteen years can be undone.