Presidential report calls for increased testing to ensure drinking water safety

Jan 3, 2017

In the wake of the Flint water crisis, president Obama asked a group of scientists and engineers to make recommendations on how to ensure the safety of the country's drinking water.

The report, released by the Presidential Council on Science and Technology, calls for more frequent water testing and increased data-sharing between government agencies.

University of Michigan professor Rosina Bierbaum is a member of the President's Council on Science and Technology, and helped write the report.

Bierbaum said water contamination disasters like Flint's could be avoided by additional testing of water in the homes of “the most vulnerable populations,” like pregnant woman.

Bierbaum says most of the nation’s sources of drinking water are perfectly safe, but "it’s clear there are occasional hot-spots of contamination,” Bierbaum said. “And we need to be increasingly vigilant.”

The council’s report also recommends changes to standards and frequency of water testing, as well as defining a contamination level beyond which would require government intervention.

But Bierbaum says the council also focused on reassuring people who have grown skeptical in the wake of cases like the Flint water crisis that their drinking water supply is safe, and can be trusted.

Read the Presidential Council on Science and Technology’s full report here.