Ensuring the safety of our drinking water is one of the most fundamental, and most critical, responsibilities of modern public health. In fact, safe drinking water has been a key ingredient in some of the greatest public health achievements of the last half-century, including the dramatic reductions in disease and improvements in longevity that we now tend to take for granted. Along with other basic public health measures like immunization, drinking water protection has played a crucial role in building a safer and healthier society. We need to remain vigilant if we are to protect those past gains. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is strongly committed to safeguarding the quality of our drinking water, and as part of that commitment, we routinely monitor all of our state's public water supply systems for a broad range of chemical, radiological, and biological contaminants. MDH believes that educating the public about water quality issues is an important element of drinking water protection. Since 1995, we have been releasing annual summary reports, like this one, to help us achieve that goal. Like previous reports in the series, this year's report covers test results and actions taken during the preceding calendar year. The main body of the report provides information about Minnesota's community water supply systems—that is, systems that provide people with drinking water in their places of residence. The section on Emerging Issues, beginning on page 12, contains information on the security of water systems, an issue that is receiving more attention as a result of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as an update on drinking water standards that are being reviewed and revised. Standards set for drinking water are done with a strong margin of safety built in and are constantly being reviewed, a process that sometimes results in the revisions of certain standards. This section also contains news on the educational initiative MDH has been involved in to get curriculum on drinking water into Minnesota classrooms through the establishment of Drinking Water Institutes for teachers. We hope this information will provide the people of Minnesota with a clearer picture of what is being done to protect the quality of their drinking water, and what our monitoring efforts have revealed about the success of those efforts. We believe that the picture is a positive one, and we hope this report will build Minnesotans' confidence in both the safety and the quality of their drinking water.
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Minnesota Department of Health (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Minnesota Water Research Digital Library