America’s Water Towers Are Contaminated

A recent article published by USA TODAY investigates the issues with water towers across America. This in-depth analysis is imperative, as most Americans take clean water for granted. Water towers generally serve as the most visible – and vulnerable – point in public water supplies. Openings as tiny as a few millimeters could be a factor in the difference between consuming clean or contaminated water.

Investigators are known to find dead snakes, mice, and raccoons floating in water storage tanks, along with pigeon feces and other animal excrements. Experts estimate that contaminated tap water causes tens of millions of illnesses yearly, leading to nearly 1,000 deaths throughout America; however, the number of deaths caused by water tower contamination is unknown, as this is not tracked.

USA TODAY and Indiana University’s Arnolt Center for Investigative Journalism started a joint investigation that found disparities in water tank management. As a result, the public is at risk for multiple risks, especially in the absence of federal regulations. Each state has the authority to determine how to handle inspection frequency, cleaning, and more. Surprisingly, some states appear to have no rules whatsoever. Some are only checked every three to five years due to federal law.

Enforcement of the rules can be lax; a city investigation stemmed from customer complaints found a 50-year maintenance gap in Delray Beach, Florida. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, water storage tanks must be inspected and cleaned every five years. The water storage tank of Delray Beach, Florida, had not been cleaned since it was built in 1972.

“Nobody could remember a time when those [water] tanks were cleaned,” said George Gretsas, Delray’s city manager at the time, after inquiring with staff members. “It’s widespread corruption within the utilities department. They regularly cover themselves up,” he added.

Some examples of water tank maintenance across the United States:

  • In 1993, 650 people were sick – seven died – from a salmonella outbreak in Gideon, Missouri. Apparently, bird droppings entered the water tank through a vent.
  • Roughly 1,300 people were sick, and one died, after a salmonella outbreak in 2008, stemming from the water storage tank in Alamosa, Colorado.
  • Two five-year-old boys died in 2002 after bathing in tap water contaminated by Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic organism that infects the brain. In an investigation, a chlorinated water storage tank in Peoria, Arizona, was found to be the culprit.

There are countless stories regarding contaminated water tanks and millions of cases of gastrointestinal or respiratory illnesses that people inadvertently got from their drinking water.

Read the full report from USA TODAY to learn more. To purify your drinking water and protect yourself and your family from contaminants, contact the experts at Reynolds today.

Reynolds Water Conditioning was established in 1931 and is Michigan’s oldest water conditioning treatment company. Still owned and operated by the Reynolds family, we take pride in providing the highest quality products at a cost-effective price. If your tap water lacks the quality you deserve, contact us today at or call 800-572-9575.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: