Wnat You  Can Do to Protect Your Drinking Water
                                                      Photo by Tim McCabe, Natural Resources Conservation Semic
Be Involved!
  • Attend public hearings on land use and permit-
   ting. Ask for an environmental impact statement.
   Ask questions about specific plans to potect your
   water source. Participate in state and water
   system funding decisions.
  • Volunteer to monitor water quality upstream from
   your water source. If your water source is a river,
   lake or stream, you can call your state to find out
   how well the Clean Water Act standards for your
   drinking water source protect your drinking water.
  • Support your local utilities.
Be Observant!
  • Look for announcements in the local media for activities that could pollute your source water.
  • Report any suspicious activities in or around your water supply to local authorities
   or call 91 1 immediately.

Be Informed!
  • Read the annual Consumer Confidence Report provided by your public water system.
  • Learn about potential threats to your water from your state's
   Source Water Assessment
  • Find out whether Clean Water Act standards protect your
   drinking water source.

Don't Contaminate!
  • Reduce or eliminate pesticide application.
  • Reduce the amount of trash you create.
  • Recycle used oil.
  • Reduce paved areas.
  • Keep pollutants away from boat marinas and waterways.

              Unfold this brochure for an illustration
          the risks and barriers that affect drinking water.
A Message from the Administrator
Christine Todd Whitman
               I believe water is the biggest
               environmental issue we face in
               the 2 1 st Century in terms of
               both quality and quantity. In
               the 30 years since its passage,
               the Clean Water Act has
               dramatically increased the
number of waterways that are once again safe for
fishing, swimming, and drinking. Despite this great
progress in reducing water pollution, many of the
nation's waters still do not meet water quality goals.
I challenge you to join President Bush and me to
finish the business of restoring and protecting our
nation's waters for present and future generations.

Por More  Information
For more information, contact EPA's Safe
Drinking Water Hotline at 1 -800-426-479 1 or visit
                                                                                             may also contact:

                                                                                         U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                                                                                         Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water
                                                                                         1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (4606-M)
                                                                                         Washington, DC 20460
                                                                                                   Printed on recycled paper.
                                                                                         Cover: water tower photo by Lynn Belts,
                                                                                         Natural Resources Conservation Service

                                                                                              United States Environmental Protection Agency
                                                                                               Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water
                                                                                                  EPA816-F-02-012  • July 2002
                                                                                                                                                 In celebration of the 30th anniversary
                                                                                                                                              I  of the Clean Water Act, EPA presents
Your  Drinking

Protect Your Drinking Water
   We relu on a safe and abundant
  water supply for the health of our
       families and communities.
What is the Source of Our Water
If you live in a large city, your source of drinking
water is probably a lake, river, or reservoir. If you
live in a rural area, your source water may be
ground water. In any case, your drinking water
starts its journey to your tap from a watershed.
A watershed is the land area that drains  to a
single body of surface water or to ground water.
Everything that happens in the watershed can
affect the quality of your water supply.
  Did uou  know?
  • Americans drink more
    than one billion glasses
    of tap water per day.
  • Children in the first
    6 months  of life
    consume seven times
    as much water per
    pound as the average
    American adult.
What Happens in a Watershed That
Can Affect Drinking Water?
Our drinking water resources are constantly under
siege from multiple threats that directly affect water
quality. Some are naturally occurring: storms,
floods, fires. Most are caused by us: our activities
at home, work, and play.

SlORMWATER RUNOFF is the single biggest threat
to the health of our waterways. As this water
washes over roofs, pavement, farms, and grassy
areas, it picks up fertilizers, pesticides, litter, etc.,
and deposits them in surface water and ground
water. Here are some of the multiple threats that
we cause through activities in our watershed.
Every Year:
•  We apply 67 million pounds of pesticides that
   contain toxic and harmful chemicals to our
•  We produce more than 230 million tons
   of municipal solid waste—approximately
   5 pounds of trash or garbage per person per
   day—that contain bacteria, nitrates, viruses,
   synthetic detergents, and household chemicals.
•  Nearly half a million of our animal factory
   farms  produce 130 times the amount of Waste
   of the  human population and are a potential
   source of bacteria, viruses, nitrates, and animal
•  The more than 12 million of our recreational
   and house boats and 10,000 boat marinas
   release solvents, gasoline, detergents, and raw
   sewage directly into waterways.
Multiple Risks Require Multiple
The best barrier against pollution is PREVENTION.
Keeping contaminants out of the drinking water
source protects the environment and reduces the
need for costly treatment. Your state is in the
process of identifying sources of drinking water
and potential threats so that your community can
take appropriate steps to protect the watershed.

After contaminants get into  the source water, the
best barrier is  RlSK MANAGEMENT. Your public
water system is the first line of defense. Water utili-
ties treat nearly 34 billion gallons of water every
day. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires them
to collect and treat water, hire trained and qualified
operators, and have an emergency response plan in
case of natural disaster or terrorist attack.
important barrier to protect drinking water
resources. Your community constantly monitors
water quality at the source, at the treatment plant
after it has been treated and disinfected, at the
distribution  system, which delivers water through
pumps and pipes to your home, and, in some
cases, at the tap.
                -  .enow:
   In North America, the total miles of
   water pipeline and aqueducts equal
   approximately one million miles—
   enough to circle the globe 40 times.
Funding and technical assistance can help systems
provide safe drinking water. If all these efforts
fail, enforcement actions can be taken against the

other three barriers work is — you, and what you
decide to do. Look to the next page for a variety of
actions that you can take.