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An EPA report on the status of the nation's lakes, rivers, and estuaries says that while water quality is not getting worse in America, neither is any progress being made. More than one-third of all waterways are reported to be unsuitable for fishing or swimming because of pollution. Most contaminants are sewage and bacteria, fertilizer, toxic metals, oil, and grease. Typical sources of pollution include runoff from farms, industrial waste, and city sewer discharge. A quick look at the headlines says a lot about the 'things' lurking in your water...

Newsweek: "Several million Americans are drinking water that is potentially hazardous due to chemical or bacterial contamination." L.A. Times: "Communities with drinking water contamination by chemicals are being hit with strange patterns of illness."

ABC Network News: "U.S. Industries...generate some 88,000,000 pounds of toxic wastes a year, 90 percent of which, the E.PA. estimates, are improperly disposed of."

The New York Times, June 2, 1995: "More than 1 in 5 Americans unknowingly drink tap water polluted with feces, radiation or other contaminants...Nearly 1,000 deaths each year and at least 400,000 cases of waterborne illness may be attributed to contaminated water.

" Houston Chronicle, June 2, 1995: "The parasite [cryptosporidium] that killed more than 100 people in Milwaukee two years ago has been found in drinking water systems that serve 45 million people..."

USA TODAY, March 30, 1995: "Parasite in water is widespread...can be dangerous, even fatal, to people with weakened immune systems." U.S. News & World Report, June 26, 1995: "Some individuals, federal officials said last week, should not drink water straight from the tap because a disease-causing parasite can slip right through many municipal water treatment systems."

The Washington Post, June 2, 1995: "Federal statutes do not require municipal water authorities to clean cryptosporidium from water reservoirs."

The widespread use of chemicals in our American society has produced a deafening effect on the human body. With over 70,000 chemicals now in use and with the introduction of 1,000 more each year, drinking water contamination is increasing at an alarming rate. According to a leading citizen lobby, U.S. drinking water has 2,100 toxic chemicals causing cancer, cell mutation, and nervous disorders.

Existing treatment plants were not designed to remove the new toxic chemicals, and the government is slow to regulate the high rate of contamination. Responsible citizens are left to educate and protect themselves from the world's greatest environmental threat - chemically contaminated water.

The Worsening Contamination of Water It has been estimated that 53 million Americans, about 20 percent of the population, have been drinking water that is contaminated with feces, radiation, lead, or other poisons. This is according to data collected by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1993-1994. This was a 7.6 million increase over 1992. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported that it had tested 29 midwestern cities and towns and found that all had herbicides present in the drinking water. In one Illinois City, they found that the level of the weed killer cyanazine in the public water supply was 34 times above the federal standards. The EWG estimated that 20 to 25 million Americans are now drinking water polluted with herbicides. Research in laboratories has shown a higher incidence of cancer and birth defects in animals fed with food containing herbicides.

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