Questions & Answers (Q&A)
1. Is tap water unclean or unsafe?
In most places, no. Tap water is rigorously tested and subject to state and federal standards, and drinking water supplies in the United States are among the safest in the world. Therefore, for most Americans, the quality of their tap water is not at all an issue, and is often of higher quality than bottled water, and surely cheaper and more environmentally-friendly than bottled water.
However, it is more complicated to know for sure how safe the water is at your particular child care site. This is because water quality varies depending on the source of the water and the pipes and fixtures through which the water flows.
2. Where does your child care facility's water come from?
If your water comes from a local utility, chances are your water meets all federal and state guidelines.
For more detailed information, you can request a copy of the Annual Water Quality Report, also known as the Consumer Confidence Report. Current law requires that local utilities publish these reports annually with information about contaminant violations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also posts many of these results here.
3. So, what if the tap water in my child care facility is unsafe to drink?
If tests reveal that your facility's tap water is unsafe, there are a number of solutions. In the short-term, sites can install filtration systems, or, for certain contaminants, flushing pipes can solve the problem. If such short-term steps are insufficient, purchasing (or getting donated) bottled water may be a last resort. This option is potentially costly and has environmental concerns associated with plastic bottle waste and the emissions of transporting bottled water.
While long-term solutions would involve ensuring clean groundwater, improving municipal utilities, or replacing old, potentially hazardous plumbing and fixtures, these are also potentially costly and time consuming. State and federal funding may exist for such projects through the federal Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and, for example in California, the state Department of Water Resources.
For More Water Safety Information, please visit the Water In Schools website.