EPA May Have Exaggerated Numbers on Safe Drinking Water

The U.S. EPA may have fudged the numbers when it announced in a June report that “94 percent of the population served by community water systems were served by systems that met all health-based standards.” Internal EPA documents suggest that the true number may be markedly lower — 79 to 84 percent in 2002. The EPA’s inspector general is investigating whether the agency purposefully mislead the public about the percentage of the population with safe drinking water. The EPA has long had difficulty collecting accurate water-quality data from states; an agency review found “major underreporting” of water violations by states, sometimes by as much as 50 percent.