The government imposes water quality standards because the health of people depends on it. To ensure clean water, the government often passes legislation preventing dumping sewage and pollutants into drinking water, and limiting or eliminating bathing, boating, or swimming in lakes that are reservoirs. The government can outlaw these things even if it is shown that they create no health risk. The government can also require additives, such as chlorine.

What is the Safe Drinking Water Act?

The federal government has enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act to regulate contaminants in drinking water supplied by public water systems. It establishes a program for protecting underground drinking water from contamination of fluids, and provides for chemicals and substances necessary to treat public drinking water when the supply chemicals is inadequate to meet the needs of a particular facility.

What Duty Does the Water Company Have?

The water company has a duty to supply a community with water that is reasonably pure and wholesome because water is a prime necessity of life. The water company must take positive steps to ensure this. Public policy requires that water companies be held to a high degree of care in supplying adequate amounts of pure and wholesome water. For example, it is the company’s responsibility to check if the water may be infected with disease and takes steps to prevent infection.

What is Pure and Wholesome Water?

Pure and wholesome water means water that is clean and free from dirt, discoloration, and odor bacteria and any other contamination. The water must be fit for domestic use and not dangerous to individuals. Water must be free from sediment, sludge, refuse, and other materials that lower water quality. However, the water company does not have to make your water 100% chemically pure. Water need only be reasonably pure.

What Can I Do if my Water is Impure?

Contact the water company to try to determine the source of the problem. If the problem is a polluter, then public authorities and individual customers may bring an action in court for an injunction to get the polluter to stop. If the polluter refuses to stop, or the water company refuses to take any action, you can contact your local board of health or the Environmental Protection Agency and they may be able to stop the water company from distributing impure water.

Can I Sue the Water Company?

Yes. Though the water company may be a public utility run by the government, water companies usually do not get governmental immunity. In addition to bringing suit for injunctive relief to stop further pollution, if you have suffered illness or injury because of the impure water, you may be entitled to bring suit for your personal damages.

Should I Contact a Lawyer if I Think my Water is Impure?

An experienced government lawyer can be extremely helpful in addressing any issues regarding water quality. A lawyer will be able to guide you in getting any available relief.