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Thinking About Technology During Drinking Water Week

2014 May 7

By Katie Henderson

This week is national Drinking Water Week, and it’s a good time to highlight drinking water technology, a critical component to safe drinking water in the United States.

A few years ago, my husband and I went camping in Montana. My husband likes to find ingenious gadgets and gear for outdoor recreation. Right before the trip he had bought a portable water sterilization gadget that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to purify water. We decided to give it a try during our hike. I have to admit, it seemed a little like science fiction! Of course, this little gadget only had to treat a liter of water. The average American household uses about 1100 liters of water every day. Public water systems must meet nearly 100 different standards to deliver safe water using a variety of technologies, including UV treatment.

I continue to marvel at the improvement of water technology over the last century. Public health experts say that water technology improvements – like chlorine treatment and filtration – are some of the most important public health innovations of the last century. One hundred years ago, waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera, and dysentery were much more common. They are very rare in the U.S. today thanks, in a large part, to drinking water technology.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which requires EPA to establish national standards for drinking water quality and treatment for all public water systems. Public water systems must comply with SDWA as they treat and monitor your water, maintain the system’s infrastructure and equipment, and keep consumers informed. The little UV gadget we used on our camping trip is a tiny version of the sophisticated processes involved in delivering your drinking water.

About the author: Katie Henderson is an ORISE Participant in the Drinking Water Protection Division of the Office of Water. She received her Master’s degree from Utah State University, where she wrote her thesis on water infrastructure challenges in the west. She likes to travel, bake cookies, and promote environmental justice.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Juan Jose Santibañez permalink
    May 7, 2014

    You are right!!. May I take contact with you and your labor about humanitarian work linked to drinkin wáter and wáter justice?. I’m researcher at Metropolitan University in Mexico city. In my university we are working with elementary and secondary level of schools where there is not drinking wáter or wáter for wc’s. So, we like to contact scholars and citizens working in this questions specially watching the social trends toward de Milenium Goals related to drinking wáter.

  2. Denita Lambou permalink
    May 8, 2014

    I am starting an go green themed blog that will publish next week and would like permission to share your interesting article on my blog. Please contact me with your response at your earliest convenience. Thank you!

  3. SARAH permalink
    May 13, 2014

    Really very interesting article you have shared with us. Water quality of USA is so good. Thanks.

  4. permalink
    May 16, 2014

    According to the opinion above is totally right.

  5. honesty permalink
    May 27, 2014

    i love the article

  6. Wil Mith permalink
    June 16, 2014

    In my university we are working with elementary and secondary level of schools where there is not drinking wáter or wáter for wc’s.

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