CDC at Work: Drinking Water

CDC experts work to address drinking water issues that affect public health through various research, prevention, and policy activities and programs. This work spans many disciplines and includes:

Research on Health Impacts

Glass of water

  • Providing support for state and local health officials to investigate, report, and prevent illnesses associated with drinking water systems.
    • Providing outbreak and consultative assistance.
    • Identifying and tracking the causes and sources of parasitic and waterborne disease.
  • Estimating the number of illnesses and costs associated with waterborne disease and outbreaks.
  • Identifying the health impacts of climate change, aging drinking water infrastructure, and well water usage to develop strategies for improvement.
  • Identifying and analyzing environmental factors that contribute to waterborne disease.
  • Developing improved laboratory methods for sampling, testing, and monitoring water quality.
  • Developing tools and training to improve waterborne disease outbreak investigations.
  • Assessing the health effects of backcountry water use in national parks (collaboration with the National Park ServiceExternal).
Tracking Disease
  • Building national surveillance (tracking) capacity for waterborne disease and outbreaks
Development of New Laboratory Methods
  • Developing and testing performance of disinfection and filtration systems for waterborne pathogen inactivation or removal.
    • Developing recommendations for treating swimming pools following contamination.
    • Testing the disinfectant sensitivity of waterborne pathogens in drinking and recreational water.
Policy and Public Outreach
  • Working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other partners to provide guidance on drinking water policy and research priorities.
  • Developing a National Well Data Repository to support public health decision making for well water.
  • Applying study findings to improve waterborne disease prevention outreach, education, policies, and practices.
  • Providing national leadership on community water fluoridation practice.
Collaboration and Partnerships
  • Supporting EPA and other partners in performing their duties and responsibilities related to protecting national drinking water.
  • Guiding the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs that promote water safety.
  • Strengthening the collaboration among epidemiology, laboratory, environmental health, and regulatory programs to prevent waterborne disease.
  • Conducting lab-based disease surveillance of foodborne, waterborne, and diarrheal diseases.
  • Developing and implementing prevention strategies for waterborne diseases in consultation with regulatory agencies and the food industry.
Information Dissemination