The widespread and unjust drinking water and clean water crisis in the United States

June 25, 2021 - Stephen Gasteyer and J. Tom Mueller

MSU Sociology Associate Professor Stephen Gasteyer, together with Utah State University's J. Tom Mueller, has published an article in Nature Communications documenting the full scope of water hardship in the United States and showing evidence of a regionally-clustered, socially unequal nationwide household water crisis.

Drs. Gasteyer and Mueller used data from the American Community Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency to show there are 489,836 households lacking complete plumbing, 1,165 community water systems in Safe Drinking Water Act Serious Violations, and 21,035 Clean Water Act permitees in Significant Noncompliance. 

"Further, we demonstrate this crisis is regionally clustered, with the specific spatial pattern varying by the specific form of water hardship. Elevated levels of water hardship are associated with the social dimensions of rurality, poverty, indigeneity, education, and age—representing a nationwide environmental injustice."

For the full article, go to