After Hurricane Sandy Do We Need to (Finally) Rethink Our Water Supply?

Having easy access to Earth’s most vital resource is something that many people take for granted. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the water supply was one of the few services that remained largely intact and was thus ignored. Many climate change models, however, anticipate stronger storms in the future. With some pipes dating back to the time of the Civil War, how much longer can this indispensable infrastructure be ignored? Without upgrade, the current system is expected to cost $335 billion over the next couple decades, with over 10 percent of water currently lost to leaks. In addition to storms, a further challenge is prevalence of contaminants.

Unlike decades ago, contaminants in the water supply now include pharmaceuticals and their byproducts, methane from fracking, and endocrine disruptors from pesticide runoff. Despite these well known findings, the issue has been widely ignored and many metropolitan areas do not even test their water supplies. Currently the federal government does not require testing, nor has it set a safety limit on the amount of drugs allowed in the water. Although the exact result of these contaminants is unknown, many medical experts are concerned about the affect of long-term exposure to these contaminants. At the very least, according to Dr. David Carpenter, “We know we are being exposed to other people’s drugs through our drinking water, and that can’t be good.”

– Michael Goldberg

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