The number of “drinking water outbreaks” between 2013 and 2014 increased to 42 cases in 19 states from 32 in 2011 to 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reports.
Kathy Benedict of CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch said that the increase might have taken place due to a “true increase in disease, better reporting or changes in capacity in states to do surveillance.”
The 19 states, which include Indiana, reported the outbreaks were caused by infectious pathogens, chemicals or toxins. The outbreaks resulted in an estimated 1,006 cases of sickness, 13 fatalities, and 124 hospitalizations. However, Benedict said that the reported cases had become fewer than the numbers in the late 70s or early 80s.
Some environmental consulting groups believe that an aging water infrastructure is a key source of the issue. In Indiana, business leaders urged state lawmakers to prioritize legislation on water-related issues for the upcoming legislative session. The public also plays an important role in ensuring safety for drinking water sources. Since some bacteria are odorless and colorless, households should test their water supply if they suspect any form of contamination.
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Legislative Preview event called for the state’s lawmakers to prioritize legislation on water-related issues. Some water treatment equipment manufacturers in Fort Wayne specialize in chemical-free solutions, which are cheaper and safer for the environment.
Greg Ellis, the chamber’s vice president of energy and environmental policy, said that repairing leaky water pipes will require financial assistance from the federal government to avoid “wasting a valuable resource.” Aside from water, the chamber also urged lawmakers to focus on legislation for education and healthcare.
Clean and safe drinking water remains important for any state. The public and private sector should consider chemical-free alternatives for water treatment, which will likely ensure a lesser risk of water-related diseases.