For more than 40 years the American Water Works Association and its members have celebrated Drinking Water Week – a unique opportunity for both water professionals and the communities they serve to join together in recognizing the vital role water plays in our daily lives. The 2019 celebration will take place May 5-11.

Drinking Water Week is observed each year in May to recognize the critical role drinking water plays in our daily lives. This year’s theme, “Protect the Source,” encourages people to learn more about the source of their drinking water and why its protection is critical to our health.

Have you ever stopped to think about how many times a day you use water from a faucet? Drinking waterrefers to the water that comes out of our tap or bottled water. Americans use drinking water many times a day, every day, for many different activities such as drinking, bathing, cooking, and washing clothes, to name a few.  The United States has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world, and it’s important to know how that water gets to our faucets and what makes it safe to use.

Protecting our water sources is an ongoing challenge. Controlling wastewater discharges or broken septic systems near sources for drinking water can help reduce germs in our source water. During Drinking Water Week, learn more about where your drinking water comes from, what makes it safe to use, and what CDC is doing to address challenges to our water supply.

Keeping Tap Water Safe and Healthy

Over the last 100 years, many improvements in the health, success, and lifespan of the U.S. population can be linked to improvements in water quality. Providing safe drinking water was one of the most important public health achievements of the 20th century. Water treatment and disinfection (methods to reduce germs or chemicals that cause illness) has helped ensure access to healthy and safe water for millions of Americans.

Government regulations have helped reduce pollution of the bodies of water that supply our drinking water systems over the years. However, treating water to remove or kill contaminants like germs or chemicals is still critical to make sure that water is safe to drink. Contamination of drinking water can occur at multiple points, including:

  • In the original water source (for example, a river).
  • Through inadequate water treatment.
  • In storage tanks.
  • In drinking water distribution systems (the pipes that carry water to homes, businesses, schools, and other buildings).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates drinking water quality in public water systems.Every public water system is required to provide its customers with an annual consumer confidence report (CCR), which provides information on local drinking water quality.

In addition, CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Networkhas information and data about some of the most common environmental chemicalsthat may be found in community water supplies.

Drinking Water and Private Wells

EPA regulations do not apply to privately owned wells, although some states do regulate private wells. As a result, millions of Americans who get their water from private wells are responsible for ensuring that their water is safe from contaminants. A local health department or well water system professional can provide assistance on well maintenance, new well construction, and water quality testing. CDC’s Safe Water for Community Health (Safe WATCH)program also helps health departments reduce harmful exposures from wells and other private drinking water systems.

Water System Challenges

Drinking water systems in the United States are up to 100 years old in some places. Cracked pipes, water main breaks, and other age-related issues increase the chance for germs or chemicals to get into the water and can lead to boil water advisories. The American Water Works Association has estimated that it will cost nearly $1 trillion in the next 25 yearsto repair and expand our drinking water systems to meet the demands of a growing population. Other challenges include warming temperatures, which can affect our water supply, and contamination of water sources with chemicals and toxins.

Get the Facts: Drinking Water & Intake

Drinking enough water every day is good for overall health. As plain drinking water has zero calories, it can also help with managing body weight and reducing caloric intake when substituted for drinks with calories, like regular soda. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, constipation, and kidney stones.

Adults and youth should consume water every day.

  • Daily fluid intake (total water) is defined as the amount of water consumed from foods, plain drinking water, and other beverages. Daily fluid intake recommendations vary by age, sex, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status.
  • Although there is no recommendation for how much plain water adults and youth should drink daily, there are recommendationsfor daily total water intake that can be obtained from a variety of beverages and foods.
  • Although daily fluid intake can come from food and beverages, plain drinking water is one good way of getting fluids as it has zero calories.

Plain water consumption varies by age, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and behavioral characteristics.

  • In 2005-2010, U.S. youth drank an average of 15 ounces of water and U.S. adults drank an average of 39 ounces of water on a given day. 
  • Among U.S. youth, plain water intake is lower in younger children, non-Hispanic black, Mexican-American.
  • Among U.S. adults, plain water intake is lower in older adults, lower-income adults, and those with lower education.
  • U.S. adolescents who drink less water tended to drink less milk, eat less fruits and vegetables, drink more sugar-sweetened beverages, eat more fast food, and get less physical activity.

Water helps your body:

• Keep your temperature normal

• Lubricate and cushion joints

• Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues

• Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements

Your body needs more water when you are:

• In hot climates

• More physically active

• Running a fever

• Having diarrhea or vomiting

If you think you are not getting enough water, these tips may help:

• Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work of running errands.

• Freeze some freezer safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.

• Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories. For example, during the school day students should have access to drinking water, giving them a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.

• Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.

• Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste and help you drink more water than you usually do.

In celebration of Drinking Water Week, grab a glass or grab a bottle and start drinking!