Water that we drink doesn't enter directly from the water source to our faucet. Many steps are taken to ensure that the water we drink and use is safe. The EPA has set up a standard by which the water must meet before entering the households throughout the country. Water quality can vary throughout the United States depending on the sources, available technology, and economic resources. In order to ensure that the water quality stays safe the EPA requires standard samples to be checked to ensure that the water is drinkable and safe. Coliform an indicator bacteria is just one of numerous amounts of bacteria that are checked in a standard check of water taken from water sources. One of the many standards that the EPA tries to maintain is less than one coliform per 100 ml of water. In order to obtain this goal the element of chlorine is added in order to kill off many of the harmful bacteria. Other tests are done in order to insure the high quality of our drinking water.
Physical contaminants can be tested for by looking at odor, taste, color, turbidity, and total dissolved solids, referring to bicarbonates, sulfates, calcium, and other minerals and matter. The EPA's standards allow us to determine the difference between healthy water and water that can be harmful towards humans, animals and the environment. Drinking standards that have been issued by the EPA give the "Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for more than 80 contaminants.* (Online) Available: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/wot/howsafe.html. These MCLs help ensure that our water quality is set to a level that allows us to protect public health. Most all of the 80 contaminants that are checked and managed are looked at in lifetime exposure in order to secure the future of American water safety. Currently, "the nations approximately 55,000 Community Water Systems (CWSs) must test for more than 80 contaminants. In 1996, 4,151 systems, or 7 percent, reported one or more MCL viola!.