The United States has pretty good tap water, but our pipes are in trouble, with more than 250,000 water main breaks a year nationwide. When pipes lose pressure, they’re vulnerable to bacterial (and other) contamination. Utility customers are told to boil their water (read this for information on disinfecting water), but most just buy it in bottles. (Yes, it’s useful in emergencies.) Another trigger for boil-water alerts is large storms, which can rush sediment into water sources. The particulate matter interferes with disinfection, bacteria survive, and boil-water notices go out until the situation is under control.
I’m not trying to steer you toward bottled water (boiling is cheaper, and easier on the environment), but we need to be honest about our infrastructure problems. It’s the only way we’ll persuade our elected and appointed officials to fix them.