News Feature | July 21, 2014

North Dakota's Safe Tap Water Record Is Tanking

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


North Dakota has suffered severe blows to its safe drinking water record in recent years. 

"Major violations of the Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Act more than tripled between 2008 and 2013 in North Dakota," the Associated Press recently reported

"The state Health Department's Annual Drinking Water Compliance Report says there were 325 major violations recorded in the state's public water systems in 2013. Just 98 were registered in 2008," the report said. 

The state violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act include monitoring and reporting infractions. Staffing issues may be part of the problem.

"Health Department environmental scientist LeeAnn Tillotson says the rise is likely the result of new public water systems in the state and high turnover rates among those responsible for water systems," the report said. 

The state opened around 140 new water systems between 2008 and 2013. 

"Approximately 86 percent of North Dakota’s residents get their drinking water from public water systems. A public water system is defined as one which has at least 15 service connections or serves at least 25 people on a regular basis," according to the North Dakota health department.  

Infrastructure is another problem for North Dakota. 

North Dakota has reported $407 million in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next two decades years, according to a project published last year by the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act was passed in 1974 to protect public health, according to the EPA. The EPA sets standards for quality. 

To search for specific violations in North Dakota and other states, check out this EPA search engine. 

Check out Water Online's Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solution Center.

Image credit: "Don't drink the water," hfb © 2010, used under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license:

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