Throughout the world people have become seriously ill and sometimes even died due to lack of clean drinking water. Most people may assume that this only a problem for third world countries; however it also happens in developed countries. Although the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed almost forty years ago, much of the tap water in the United States is unsafe to drink because of an overwhelmed regulatory agency, inadequate fines to prevent violations, and new threats that are currently unregulated.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for enforcing standards set by Congress and The Safe water Drinking Act. However according to Charles Duhigg, in his article “Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering,” it has become more difficult for the EPA to do their job due to downsizing caused by cutbacks. In addition, today’s EPA has more to inspect and even fewer personnel to do so. Many corporations have benefited a great deal because of the EPA being overwhelmed. With the EPA overwhelmed, this decreases the chance of fines, and increases the chance of violations. When companies do receive fines, they are often less than adequate to prevent further infractions. For instance, some fines are so low in comparison with the corporation’s profit that the loss can be made up within 10 hours. Furthermore, it has become even more difficult for the EPA, and other groups to prevent water contamination because the corporations have become effective lobbyist. It’s not uncommon for former EPA agents to switch sides for higher pay. Besides the difficulty of enforcing an effective preventive water pollution program, the EPA faces the additional challenge of unregulated sources of Pollution. For instance, water runoff from farms have contaminated many waterways, but are not currently included in the Water Protection Act.
In the End, without support, and backing of the larger government agencies the EPA cannot effectively maintain a safe water supply. The fines are so small and infrequent that they have little or no impact. Unsafe drinking water, and the health risks that accompany it, will continue as long as the corporations are the ones that decide if the drinking water should be safe. After all, there is much more money in polluting water, than keeping it clean.