Drinking Water Week 2024

We are so used to turning on the tap and receiving safe drinking water that we often forget how vulnerable that water can be to contamination.

During Drinking Water Week, recognized May 5-11 by the State of Michigan and nationally, filling knowledge gaps is a critical priority. Knowing the source of your drinking water is crucial, and so is knowing about threats to its safety and legal and environmental defenses to prevent its contamination. Michigan also proclaims Thursday, May 9, as Private Residential Well Awareness Day to bring attention to the 2.6 million Michiganders who depend on private wells for their drinking water.

Michiganders have reason to grasp the threat to our drinking water. The lead contamination crises in Flint and Benton Harbor provide sobering lessons about one threat to drinking water. The federal government has now committed $15 billion nationwide for the replacement of lead pipes through which drinking water flows.

Another threat to public drinking water is the family of chemicals known as PFAS, the so-called “forever chemicals”, used in many consumer products. These compounds pose potentially major human health effects.

The good news is that both the State of Michigan and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have set health-based limits for some PFAS in public drinking water supplies.

The threat from other contaminants is greatest to those who rely on the more than 1.25 million private wells in Michigan, which go largely untested. Many people don’t realize that 45% of Michigan’s population gets drinking water from underground sources.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that private well users have their water tested annually for contaminants. The CDC also recommends keeping household hazardous materials such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from wells.

For Michigan residents who receive drinking water from public water supplies, safety and contamination are regulated. Federal and state Safe Drinking Water laws require regular testing and treatment of public water. Customers of public water supplies are entitled to receive annual consumer confidence reports that detail levels of key contaminants and any violations of drinking water standards.

In 2022, according to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), there were 1,012 violations of Safe Drinking Act requirements at 328 community supplies. Most of these violations related to treatment or reporting requirements, not violations of health-based drinking water standards.

Many Michiganders drink bottled water—some as a short-term replacement for contaminated public or private water supplies, but far more do so for the perceived convenience and hydration. Many bottled water customers, however, do not realize that much bottled water comes from public supplies—they are drinking bottled tap water from systems paid for by taxpayers and marked up for significant profit by the private sector. Aquafina and Dasani labels in Michigan are drawn from the public supply for Southeast Michigan. And most of the remainder of bottled water packaged in Michigan—such as BlueTriton’s (formerly Nestle’s)—comes from groundwater that is tributary to Michigan’s streams and lakes. In effect, it and consequent private profits come from sources that belong to the people of Michigan under the public trust doctrine.

We should not take our drinking water for granted. Becoming aware of sources and threats is vital to our individual, family, and public health. Learn more about FLOW’s efforts to protect groundwater here on our website.

2 comments on “Drinking Water Week 2024

  1. Aaron Morrison on

    Great article.
    Well my Grandfather lived to be 92 and he drank the well water every day! That is very good news, the bad news is that todays possibilities of contamination of that well and any number of the 1.25 million private wells went way up since then!
    “What I don’t know can’t hurt me” In this case it certainly can.. GET you well tested. Cheers

  2. maurice forget on

    I drink water, you drink water, they drink water. So, polluting water is a crime because LIFE is water.


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