Epa Misled Public On Quality Of U.S. Drinking Water
Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have repeatedly made misleading statements about supposed improvements in U.S. drinking water quality, according to the EPA’s Inspector General’s office.
From 1999 to 2002, the agency reported “meeting its annual performance goal for drinking water quality even though it concurrently reported that the data used to draw those conclusions were flawed and incomplete,” the Inspector General said in the report.
For the agency’s annual performance goal to be met, 91 percent of the nation’s drinking water must meet public health standards.
“EPA’s own analysis, supported by our review, indicated that the correct number was unknown, but less than what was reported,” according to the Inspector General’s office.
The internal report also cited numerous claims by senior Bush administration officials in 2003 and 2004 that incorrectly “portrayed [EPA’s] success at improving drinking water quality.”
EPA data audits show that some 77 percent of known monitoring and reporting violations, and 35 percent of known health standard violations, are not included in the agency’s compliance database.
In addition, the inspector general’s report confirmed the finding of several EPA documents that many of these monitoring and reporting violations likely are “masking” health standard violations.
The report said the “inaccuracy in the reporting does not necessarily indicate a direct or immediate threat to public health.”
Environmentalists say the report is evidence that the EPA is failing the public.
“The EPA’s regulatory system is broken,” said Erik Olson, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The lead crisis in Washington, DC is only a small part of the problem we have nationwide, and the EPA is asleep at the wheel.”
“Instead of leveling with the public and admitting there are serious problems with our drinking water quality,” Olson said, “EPA officials have been making rosy claims that they know are misleading.”
Provided by the Environmental News Service.