Tap Water Facts
Tap Water Facts

37 Interesting Facts about Tap Water

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published June 23, 2017
  • One billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water.c[9]
  • According to the World Water Development Report (WWDR), many girls in developing countries cannot attend school because they are responsible for gathering domestic water. Additionally, schools lack separate toilet facilities.[9]
  • Twenty-five million people die each year from contaminated water.[7]
  • Impure or contaminated water is the leading cause of epidemics in developing countries.[9]
  • Contaminants in tap water, such as lead, can increase the risk of learning disorders.[2]
  • Interesting Facts about Tap Water
    The average African family uses about 5 gallons (23 liters) of water a day. (Claudiad / Getty Images)
  • The average African family uses about 5 gallons (23 liters) of water a day. The average American family uses more than 250 gallons (946 liters) a day.[7]
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Americans annually take 40 trillion gallons of water from the ground, and the rate of use is increasing 25% per decade. Scientists argue that groundwater is being polluted and used at a rate that far outstrips nature’s ability to cope.[7]
  • In Bellevue, Ohio, public and private wastes were dumped into sinkholes and wells beginning in 1872. Over 120 years later, those wastes still show up in drinking water. In some wells, raw sewage from that era, including un-decomposed toilet tissue, can still be found.[4]
  • The EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) regulates only 91 of the over 60,000 chemicals used in the United States. Even low levels of hundreds of legally allowed contaminants have been associated with a wide range of diseases, including cancer.[2]
  • Widespread city infrastructures are decaying at a rapid rate, which increases the types of dangerous pollutants in the water.[7]
  • The tap water of at least 41 million Americans has been found to contain a wide range of pharmaceuticals, including sex hormones and anti-seizure medicine.d[6]
  • Efforts to tighten drinking water standards that would regulate and restrict common drinking water contaminants such as perchlorate (a rocket fuel additive), trichloroethylene (a degreaser used in manufacturing), and perchloroethylene (a cleaning solvent) have been blocked by industrial and military lobbyists.[4]
  • A random study by the EPA revealed that employees of bottled water companies are not tested for disease, nor are they required to avoid the bottling area if they are sneezing from colds or have open cuts or infections on their hands.[4]
  • Water is life, and clean water means health.

    - Audrey Hepburn

  • In the United States, a massive amount of new toxins totaling nearly 18 billion pounds are released into the groundwater, soil, and atmosphere annually.[7]
  • Americans empty 2.5 million plastic water bottles an hour. Each one takes 500 years to decompose.[7]
  • More than 62 million Americans since 2004 have been exposed to substandard tap water. This exposure has lasted for years for some people.[2]
  • An average water molecule will spend 9 days in the atmosphere, 2 weeks in a river, 10 years in a large lake, 3,000 to 5,000 years in an ocean, 10,000-100,000+ years underground, and 10,000 to 1,000,000+ years in an Antarctic ice cap.e[7]
  • Scientists report that the severely outdated Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) cannot adequately prevent Americans from being exposed to serious health dangers in their drinking water.[2]
  • Bottled water takes anywhere from 1,100 to 2,000 times as much energy to produce as tap water.[5]
  • Interesting Bottled Water Fact
    Plastic water bottles can take between 400 and 1,000 years to decompose

  • Toxins in tap water can accumulate in the body for years, increasing the risk for developing cancer and all types of diseases.[7]
  • Nearly 53% of the population in Fiji doesn’t have a clean, safe source of drinking water. Ironically, Fiji is the home of the plant that bottles Fiji Water, one of the most popular brands of bottled water in the U.S.[5]
  • In 1976, each American drank 1.6 gallons of bottled water. By 2014, they were drinking more than 21 times than that.[5]
  • Priced by the gallon, bottled water is between 600 to 3,785 times more expensive than tap water.[5]
  • In most blind taste-tests, many consumers find that tap water tastes just as good or better than bottled water. Approval is even higher when tap water is served in a fancy bottle.[5]
  • Using a simple carbon filter, either in a pitcher or attached to your tap, can provide clean, fresh-tasting water for only $0.31 per gallon. This is about 1/4 of the average cost per gallon for bottled water[5]
  • Producing a 16-ounce water bottle creates more than 100 times as much air and water pollution as making the bottle out of glass.[5]
  • Every 8 seconds, a child dies from contaminated water, which is equivalent to 12 jumbo jets of children dying per day.[7]
  • Interesting Water Facts
    Every 8 seconds, a child dies from contaminated water (Dondi Tawatao / Stringer / Getty Images)

  • Some of the toxic chemicals in a plastic water bottle can leach out over time into the water inside, particularly if the bottle is reused.[5]
  • Manufacturing plastic water bottles alone produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2006, which is not counting the emissions from shipping the bottles.[5]
  • Over 55,000 water systems in the United States process over 34 billion gallons of water each day.[8]
  • There are over 600,000 miles of pipes of the network of U.S. water systems.[8]
  • Combined, the total miles of pipeline and aqueducts in the U.S. and Canada is about one million miles, which is enough to circle the globe 40 times.[8]
  • Amazing Tap Water Fact
    An average American drinks 58 gallons of water per year
  • Americans drink over 1 billion glasses of tap water per day.[8]
  • There is an estimated 326 million trillion gallons of water on earth. However only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to drink.[3]
  • Refilling a half-liter water bottle 1,740 times with tap water costs the same as a .99 cent water bottle.[11]
  • The expiration date on water bottles is not for the water—it is for the bottle.[10]
  • Because pollution and chemicals in tap water often do not have a scent or taste, many people who drink dangerous contaminants do not even realize they are doing so.[1]
References

1"Drinking Water." CDC. 2012. Accessed: June 23, 2017.

2Duhigg, Charles. “That Tap Water is Legal, But May Be Unhealthy.” The New York Times. December 16, 2009. Accessed: May 13, 2010.

3"How Much Water is There on Earth?" How Stuff Works. Accessed: June 23, 2017.

4Kupua A’o, Lono Kahuna. Don’t Drink the Water Without Reading this Book. Pagosa Springs, CO: Kali Press, 1998.

5Livingston, Amy. "Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water." Money Crashers. Accessed: June 23, 2017.

6Probe: Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water.” CBS News. March 10, 2009. Accessed: May 13, 2010.

7Roddick, Anita. Troubled Water. Boulder, CO: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004.

8"Stats on Tap." American Water Works Association. Accessed: June 23, 2017.

9The Millennium Development Goals and Water.” UNESCO. Accessed: May 13, 2010.

10"Water Never Goes Bad, So Why Does It Need a Expiration Date?" Smithsonian.  February 15, 2013. Accessed: June 23, 2017.

11"Water World." Fast Company. Accessed: June 23, 2017.

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