Water Quality

Breaking News: Harmful Algal Blooms Effecting US Waterways

Rapid algae overgrowth can result in a phenomenon known as harmful algal blooms (HABs). Blooms can be both toxic and non-toxic but always have a detrimental effect on marine life in the affected area. Algal blooms most often occur in still or slow moving water and are brought on by the combination of sunlight and nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. When HABs are detected, access to the affected areas is restricted as serious health consequences can result for both animals and humans that come into contact with the impacted water. Reducing the availability of nutrients to the phytoplankton is essential to reducing the occurrence of HABs.

NEHA is committed to providing education, resources, and support for water quality programs around the country.  Here you will find information about the newest projects and the resources we offer.

Water Quality

Water is essential for life to exist. It falls from the sky and is freely available in our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Making sure that water is safe to drink, use for cooking, and swim in requires attention and resources. In the United States, the Safe Drinking Water Act helps ensure that when citizens turn on a public tap, out comes clean and safe water. This access is supported by a complex infrastructure that needs constant monitoring and upkeep. In addition, there are more than 40 million Americans reliant on private water sources that are not supported by this complex infrastructure or held to federal standards. These systems have unique concerns that must be addressed to ensure they too provide safe drinking water to those dependent on them.

Water-borne illness can come from a variety of factors and a variety of places. Due to the requirements put in place around the treatment and testing of water supplies, it is generally rare for individuals to become ill from consuming public tap water, but there are cases of contaminated water supplies reaching citizens. The crisis in Flint, Michigan is a strong reminder of how vigilant we need to be about water testing and treatment.  This vigilance is equally important for those who rely on private drinking water systems such as wells. Though the responsibility for testing and treatment falls on the private well owner, environmental health professionals can provide vital support and expertise to promote healthy water quality. Recreational waters, such a pools, spas, lakes, and oceans can be also source of illness.

While water and water programs fall into different categories, it is important to realize that all water comes from the same place and that we need to be mindful of our impacts on all water sources. Chemicals applied to the environment, including pesticides, herbicides, de-icing salts, and those put down drains, including household cleaners and paints, can all contribute to water contamination.  Ensuring proper disposal of these potential contaminants can help keep our water supplies clean. Moreover, separating noxious land uses, such as large scale agricultural sites or industrial processes, from our watersheds and water sources can also prevent contamination,

Environmental health professionals are trained to identify issues that impact water systems. As local experts, environmental health professionals can ensure that each community’s local situation is resilient to natural hazards and climate change and that water sources are continually evaluated and maintained to meet all federal, state and local standards.

Environmental Health Saves Lives, Saves Money, and Protects Our Future

Environmental Health professionals ensure our water is safe by testing and treating drinking water and inspecting septic systems.

NEHA: The Water You Drink Infographic

NEHA Water Quality Resources

E-learning Opportunities – NEHA has select water quality educational opportunities available online. These sessions also provide continuing education credit for NEHA members.

Journal of Environmental Health - The Journal of Environmental Health is published 10 times per year by the National Environmental Health Association and keeps readers up-to-date on current issues, new research, useful products and services, and employment opportunities. We frequently cover issues of importance to water quality professionals, and reprints are available through Content Editor.

NEHA's Bookstore - Provides environmental health professionals with the latest in relevant educational material. In our Water Quality section, we feature a number of resources for those in the healthy swimming and recreational waters field.

Community Calendar - Many NEHA affiliate conferences and other conferences have sessions related to water quality. Check our calendar periodically to find events of interest. 


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