Imagine watching a news report about deadly bacteria, sludge, or sewage in drinking water, in a community that resembles yours. You’d think twice about whether you or your kids should drink your tap water or serve it to your kids.


Water insecurity is an escalating issue in the U.S and tap water distrust plays a huge role in this. Why is it important we address this? Because those who cannot trust tap water tend to shift to more costly, and often, less healthy options, such as sugary drinks or bottled water. So is tap water safe to drink in 2021? Let’s see what the science says!

Research reveals approximately 61.4 million people in the U.S. don’t consume tap water as of 2017-2018. Other studies found that around 2 million Americans lack access to safe, clean water. When taken into account, these findings suggest that approximately 59 million Americans who have tap water access from cisterns, private wells, or their respective municipality, choose not to drink it. While some of them have contaminated water, not all of them do. National studies found minorities and low-income groups are amongst those less likely to trust public water- with good reason! 

Here are some of the possible causes worsening everyday Americans’ tap water distrust in 2021:

  1. Prevalence of outbreaks and deaths due to water-borne disease

The CDC states that “about 7.2 million Americans get sick every year from diseases spread through water.” The CDC’s top 10 causes of these public water system outbreaks include Giardia, Legionella, Norovirus, Shigella, Campylobacter, Copper, Salmonella, Hepatitis A,

Cryptosporidium, E. coli, and excess fluoride.

  1. Lead, arsenic, and “forever chemicals” discovered in 2021 Consumer Report and The Guardian investigation


The 9-month investigation sampled tap water across America and revealed:

  • > 35% of the samples had PFAS a.k.a “potentially toxic forever chemicals” present levels above CR’s recommended maximum.
  • About 8% of samples had arsenic, at levels above CR’s recommended maximum.
  • Around 90% of the samples had detectable levels of lead.
  1. Brain-eating microbe discovered in water supply in late 2020

A 6-year-old boy contracted the Naegleria Fowleri “brain-eating” microbe and died leading to an investigation in Texas’ water supply. Residents of the region were warned not to use their tap water after tests confirmed the presence of the brain-eating Naegleria Fowleri in its water system. This microbe, which can cause an infection of the brain, is usually fatal so officials urged surrounding communities not to use their water supply for drinking, cleaning, or bathing. Lake Jackson’s 27000 residents were told by authorities that children, elderly people, and immunocompromised people were "particularly vulnerable". Even after the city’s water system was flushed, people were instructed to boil their tap water before drinking it and not allow water to enter their noses when bathing or showering. 

  1. Sewage overflows contaminating water systems

For decades, Centreville Illinois residents have dealt with sewage overflows due to the town’s wastewater system “a combination of open drainage ditches and aging underground pipes and pumps, feeds into networks from neighboring towns, which also experience backup and overflow issues”. Residents have drawn a correlation between the sewage overflows and odd-tasting tap water and refuse to consume tap water, instead, depending on donated shipments of bottled water. This is a costly price to pay for clean, safe water, especially since the town is one of America’s poorest, with a less-than-$15000 a year median household income.

This is similar to what happened in March 2020 when Delray Beach Florida’s residents found that the water coming out of each tap was smelly, off-colored, and had bits of dirt in it.

  1. Water tower infrastructure neglect

Unclean tap water is the cause of 10s of millions of illnesses every year. Of the 7.2 million Americans who fall sick due to tap water, no one tracks how many are the result of water storage tank contamination. Recent investigations have revealed that some water tanks have NEVER been cleaned since they were built- 50 years ago! An EPA-presentation documented instance revealed a neglected water tank that had been found to have elevated levels of bacteria from feces as well as bloated mice and SEVEN dead snakes in the water. Another neglected water tank in Utah was found to have a dead raccoon in one of Utah’s 500000-gallon water tanks.

Water quality violations across the U.S. from 2006 to 2015 have resulted in increased purchases of bottled water in affected US areas as a way to avoid tap water. These purchase rates remain high even after the violation. And this is only the tip of the dirty iceberg! Feeling disgusted yet? You’re not alone! We cannot be expected to trust what comes out of our taps because our fears aren’t unfounded. They are rooted in history!

Whether it’s a water purifying water bottle or alkaline water bottle every day Americans are resorting to alternate ways of getting clean, safe water. Some of these include making a water purifying water bottle or an alkaline water bottle filter part of life on the go, given most of us spend 70% of our time away from home!

Water doesn’t come with a brain, use your own! Want to read more articles like this? Visit to learn more.