Is Rainwater Safe to Drink?

In a nutshell… Many Americans collect, store, and use (harvest) rainwater for watering plants, cleaning, bathing, and sometimes drinking. This article addresses some of the many household uses of harvested rainwater, including how to consume collected rainwater safely.   1” of rain × 1 sq. foot = 0.62 gallons of freshwater Freshwater scarcity is a

Public Perception and Trust of U.S. Drinking Water Quality

In a nutshell… This article examines public trust and factors affecting consumer confidence in the quality and safety of drinking water provided by community water systems. It highlights the results of a recently completed national survey of 2,200 U.S. adults by the American Water Works Association.   Most Americans enjoy year-round access to safe drinking

COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights Need for Universal Access to Safe Water and Sanitation

In a nutshell… The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for universal access to safely managed drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. Acutely aware of a lack of progress toward achieving the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pre-pandemic, and new impediments resulting from the pandemic, innovative projects around the globe can help inspire

Extremely Rare but Deadly: Brain-Eating Naegleria fowleri Amoeba in Water

In a nutshell… This article discusses Naegleria fowleri risk and prevention in water. These free-living amoebas can thrive in warm freshwaters such as lakes and sometimes inadequately treated, warm household (e.g., drinking, bathing) water. Entry of contaminated water through the nose—not by swallowing—can lead to a fatal brain infection. Only a handful of cases are

Is “Gray Water” Safe for Domestic Reuse?

In a nutshell… This article discusses the potential importance and real challenges associated with reusing household “gray water,” a growing practice in many arid areas of the United States. Although everyone can agree that it will save potable water, not everyone agrees on how gray water should be reused domestically.   No matter how you

Legionella Bacteria Concerns Grow as Schools Reopen

In a nutshell… COVID-19, building closures, and stagnant water can form an unfortunate “trifecta” when it comes to Legionella bacteria and other microorganism growth in building water systems. This article highlights recent reports of Legionella detections in school water systems and steps to safely reopen school buildings to protect students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  

How Algal Blooms Can Impact Water Quality: What You Should Know

In a nutshell… The summer of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been relatively mild for blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms in the Great Lakes. But problem areas can be found in many states. This article provides an overview of the public health importance of harmful algal blooms on recreational waters and sources of treated drinking water.   Photo

Coronavirus Creates New Challenges for Small and Rural Drinking Water Systems

In a nutshell… Many small U.S. community water systems were already struggling with economic, technical, and regulatory challenges before coronavirus (COVID-19) made them bigger. This article highlights how small and rural utilities are coping to stay operational during the pandemic.   The majority (97%) of the nation’s 146,000+ active public water systems are considered “small”

Flush Wisely during (and after) Coronavirus

In a nutshell… To keep household sewage flowing away from our homes for safe treatment and disposal, it is important to “flush wisely.” This article discusses why you should not flush foreign objects such as disinfectant wipes—even if advertised as safe to flush (they’re not).   Photo credit: City of Portland, OR As cases of

Tracking the Spread of Coronavirus through Sewage

In a nutshell… Properly treated sewage is essential to public health protection. This article discusses ongoing research into the potential role of wastewater in the spread of coronavirus and how tracking the virus in sewage can help align community resources and approaches in fighting the pandemic.   Researchers all over the world who are studying