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


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”


Can You Get Coronavirus from Wastewater or Drinking Water?

In a nutshell… Maintaining water safety and hygiene is critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article discusses recent statements from public health agencies about how properly treating and disinfecting wastewater and drinking water inactivates the COVID-19 virus.   COVID-19 photo credit: CDC As the world adapts to the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, so too


Celebrating the Safe Drinking Water Act: 45 Years Later

In a nutshell… It’s never too late to celebrate safe drinking water. December 16th, 2019, marked the 45th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which continues to serve as the blueprint for protecting U.S. drinking water from source to tap.   Monday, December 16, 2019, marked the 45th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water


Building the Workforce for Tomorrow’s Safe Water

Reliable, 24/7 operation of the nation’s water utilities depends on access to a qualified workforce—particularly sufficient numbers of certified water operators who run the equipment and control the treatment processes for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. These allied and evolving fields are increasingly linked through water reuse to ensure that Americans have access to clean and safe water and to help protect the environment. 


Reducing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Inequalities around the World

It is unsettling to realize that in our high-tech world there are still large segments of the population that lack access to the drinking water and sanitation services most of us take for granted. The theme of this year’s World Water Week, Water for Society: Including All, seems particularly apt in light of this observation. Meanwhile, a new report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (image at right) provides a “special focus” on global “WASH” (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) inequalities. A product of the Joint Monitoring Program, the report concludes that while significant progress has been made toward achieving universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, progress is uneven. And although there is a laudable commitment at the heart of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda to “leave no one behind,” the reality is there are many groups potentially in that precarious position. 


Wildfire Impacts on Drinking Water Quality

Americans consume over one billion glasses of drinking water each day from over 151,000 U.S. community water systems. But natural and man-made disasters, including wildfires, can impact the provision of safe drinking water. Thankfully rare, wildfires sometimes damage or destroy the treatment plants, storage tanks, pump stations, and pipes that are needed to provide drinking water to our homes, schools, and businesses.


Hydration and Hyponatremia: Can You Drink Too Much Water?

As much of the United States swelters in the midst of a very hot summer (even in northern Minnesota), it seemed again like a good idea to write about the importance of hydration. After all, humans are carbon- and water-based organisms. My previous perspective focused on staying hydrated year-round, but this article addresses some of the current science and persistent misconceptions about hot weather- and exercise-associated dehydration and over-hydration, called hyponatremia. (So yes, you can drink too much water). Although both conditions can be serious, for most of us most of the time, drinking the right amount of water is not that difficult—even during vigorous exercise and in hot and humid conditions. The key is simply to “drink to quench thirst,” but as I noted in my previous article, thirst may become less effective an indicator as we age.


Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and Genes in Wastewater and Drinking Water

We’ve written about antibiotic (antimicrobial) resistance and “superbugs” several times in recent years, and based on what we continue to learn, there is likely more to come. Antibiotics are used widely in animal agriculture and aquaculture and are also found in wastewater. These pharmaceuticals are excreted by animals and people who are taking antibiotics and when unused pills and liquids are flushed down the toilet or poured into the drain. All of these actions result in antibiotics entering the water environment and our wastewater systems, and have contributed to antibiotic resistant bacteria known as ARB. I wrote in 2015 that “Responsible use and disposal of antibiotics will go a long
way toward reducing the unintended consequences of their entering the waste stream.”


Chlorinated Tap Water: Benefits and Risks

It’s hard to believe that an article I wrote almost a decade ago, Chlorine in Tap Water Is Safe to Drink, remains the most popular of our now over 350 perspectives by the Water Quality & Health Council (WQ&HC). An update seemed in order, but based on its long-established (over 110 years) efficacy and safety: chlorinated tap water is still safe to drink.