Extreme Precipitation, Public Health Emergencies, and Safe Drinking Water in the USA

Natalie G. Exum, Elin Betanzo, Kellogg J. Schwab, Thomas Y.J. Chen, Seth Guikema, David E. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: This review examines the effectiveness of drinking water regulations to inform public health during extreme precipitation events. This paper estimates the vulnerability of specific populations to flooding in their public water system, reviews the literature linking precipitation to waterborne outbreaks, examines the role that Safe Drinking Water Act and Public Notification (PN) Rule have in public health emergencies, and reviews the effectiveness of the PN Rule during the 2017 Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Recent Findings: Public water systems in large metropolitan areas have substantial portions of their customer base at risk for a waterborne outbreak during a flooding event. The PN Rule are ambiguous for who is responsible for declaring a “waterborne emergency” following a natural disaster like Hurricane Maria. Summary: Revisions to the current PN Rule that mandate public notification and water quality sampling during extreme precipitation events are necessary to ensure the public is aware of their drinking water quality following these events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-315
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent environmental health reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Flooding
  • Natural disasters
  • Precipitation
  • Public Notification Rule
  • Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Waterborne infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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