Berks Vital Signs

Water, water, everywhere, but is it safe to drink?

Earlier this year, the Community Foundation added a new component to Berks Vital Signs by asking journalists to dig a bit deeper into some key issues that impact the quality of life here. The latest report, which will be released over the coming days, looks at how we use and care for water in Berks County. It answers important questions – like where water comes from when residents turn on their taps – and highlights important challenges and opportunities we have when it comes to protecting the health of our waterways and, ultimately, our drinking water and the environment as a whole.

We’re fortunate to live in the Mid-Atlantic region, where water is generally abundant and droughts tend to be short-lived compared to areas in the western part of the nation. Nevertheless, it’s up to all of us to ensure that the water supply remains plentiful and safe for drinking, for wildlife, and for the health of future generations.

After you read these articles, you may wonder what you can do to make a difference.

One of the best things we all can do is support efforts to ensure our water is clean and safe. That may mean donating to organizations that have the expertise to protect and repair our local streams, rivers, and lakes. It may mean really reading the annual report that water authorities are required to send to those on a public water supply, and talking to local politicians if the numbers show cause for concern. It certainly means looking at our own water usage and habits, including thinking about how and where the chemicals we use in our day-to-day lives – lawn fertilizer, ice melt, medicine – get applied and discarded.

There are many regulations in place to help protect our watersheds. It’s up to all of us to make sure they are followed and improved upon as our circumstances change.

Part I: Farming in Berks yields cash, crops… and challenges to water quality

Part II: Recent contamination threatens Berks water sources

Part III: Aging infrastructure and changing regulations challenge local water systems