Beware of Misleading Data in Recent Tap Water Quality Database

August 2, 2017



Beware of Misleading Data – Municipalities Face Tough Questions Brought on by Tap Water Quality Database

Quality data is a core passion here at GeoInsight, Inc.  We pride ourselves on attention to detail and when it comes to water supplies, we work hand-in-hand with New England municipalities and private water systems to keep up with federal and State standards to deliver quality water to the public.  Water associations across America are shocked, frustrated, and discouraged about the updates to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) tap water quality database.  EWG claims to be the consumer resource for national water quality, but its database is filled with misleading information.  Although EWG released an updated version of their database in July of 2017, the damage has been done and many municipalities are facing hard media questioning over the recent buzz on standards.

The EWG’s website can easily alarm consumers because  water quality data  is  not always compared to United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards and State standard , but to much lower and unscientifically vetted health guidelines.  Further, it is a common fact that granite and other igneous rocks in New England contain natural radiological components, such as radon and uranium.  EWG is quick to point the finger, suggesting uranium comes from industry; however, the source of these components in groundwater in nearly all cases in New England  is natural bedrock.

This is an extremely misleading tool and demonstrates how environmental reporting can distort the truth.  Every utility already reports water quality testing results as part of  consumer confidence reports that are  published annually for the public as required by the USEPA Safe Drinking Water Act.  Results are compared to standards developed by State agencies and the USEPA to evaluate just that: is the drinking water safe?

Massachusetts Water Works Association Response

Recently, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Works Association, (MWWA), Jennifer Pederson, issued a notice to MWWA members that summed up the situation:

On the issue of creating standards for emerging contaminants, MWWA's position has been that EPA has a well-established process to regulate new contaminants of concern and MWWA believes that Massachusetts should follow that process and implement standards only after the scientific and public health merits of doing so have been methodically determined.

We stand by MWWA’s position and the well-established process of the USEPA to regulate tap water constituents and encourage utilities and municipalities to reach out to us for support, if they are concerned about the quality of their water and/or how to answer customer- or media-related questions.  

For more information, contact our water supply experts at 800.217.1953 or email us at