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Notice to Readers: National Drinking Water Week --- May 6--12, 2007

Safe drinking water is vital to public health. Each year, the American Water Works Association and an alliance of organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sponsor National Drinking Water Awareness Week to highlight the importance of tap water and the need to reinvest in water infrastructure. The theme for 2007 is Only Tap Water Delivers (1).

Worldwide, approximately 1.1 billion persons lack access to an improved potable water source,* and an estimated 3 million persons in developing regions of the world die each year from infectious diseases related to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation (2). In contrast, the United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world. In 2005, more than 52,000 community water systems supplied approximately 93% of the U.S. population with tap water (3,4), and more than 92% of public water systems were in full compliance with health-based drinking water standards (3). Nonetheless, an estimated 4 million to 33 million cases of gastrointestinal illness associated with public drinking water systems occur annually in the United States (5,6). These estimates do not include illnesses that occur in the estimated 45 million persons served by small or individual water systems (4,7) or illnesses that are not gastrointestinal.

The occurrence of drinking-water--associated disease highlights the importance of maintaining and improving the nation's water infrastructure. EPA promotes practices to change how the nation views, values, manages, and invests in its water infrastructure so that water systems are sustainable and will be available to serve future generations. EPA is working with the water industry to identify best practices to help water utilities address aging infrastructure, efficient water use, and watershed protection (8).

CDC activities related to National Drinking Water Week include reducing the adverse health effects from contaminated drinking water and recreational water, improving access to safe water internationally, strengthening waterborne disease outbreak surveillance and investigations, supporting water-related programs at local and state health departments, and addressing terrorism concerns related to waterborne pathogens. Additional information regarding CDC activities is available at http://www.cdc.gov/health/water.htm, http://www.cdc.gov/safewater, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/globalhealth/projects/waterplus.htm, and http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation. Additional information about National Drinking Water Week is available at http://www.awwa.org/advocacy/dww and http://www.epa.gov/safewater/index.html.

References

  1. American Water Works Association. Only tap water delivers: drinking water week 2007. Available at http://www.awwa.org/advocacy/dww.
  2. Hutton G, Haller L. Evaluation of the costs and benefits of water and sanitation improvements at the global level. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2004. Available at http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/en/wsh0404.pdf.
  3. US Environmental Protection Agency. FY2005 drinking water factoids. Available at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/data/getdata.html.
  4. US Census Bureau. Annual estimates of the population for the United States, regions, and states and for Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006 (NST-EST2006-01). Available at http://www.census.gov/popest/states/NST-ann-est.html.
  5. Colford JM, Roy SL, Beach MJ, Hightower A, Shaw SE, Wade TJ. A review of household drinking water intervention trials and an approach to the estimation of endemic waterborne gastroenteritis in the United States. Journal of Water and Health 2006;4(Suppl 2):71--88.
  6. Messner M, Shaw S, Regli S, Rotert K, Blank V, Soller J. An approach for developing a national estimate of waterborne disease due to drinking water and a national estimate model application. J Water Health 2006;4(Suppl 2):201--40.
  7. US Environmental Protection Agency. Private drinking water wells. Available at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/privatewells/index2.html.
  8. US Environmental Protection Agency. Sustainable infrastructure for water & wastewater. Available at http://www.epa.gov/waterinfrastructure.

* Potable water that is supplied through a household connection, public standpipe, borehole well, protected dug well, protected spring, or rain water collection.



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