From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Researchers have found that children living in central and northern Wisconsin communities that don't disinfect their drinking water systems have a greater likelihood of contracting gastrointestinal illnesses than children who rely on other water systems.
The study, published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, found that children from untreated systems had a 40% greater chance of getting such illnesses after an inch of rain had fallen in the previous week.
With even heavier rainfall, the chances of children going to the doctor or hospital for such problems grew even higher. The researchers found the incidence of intestinal troubles was 240% higher if rain totaled 4.7 inches or more in the previous week.
The researchers compared the results, taken between 1991 and 2010, to areas in the same region that had private wells or municipal systems that treated their water.
The study is the latest example showing the potential health risks posed by public water systems that don't disinfect water. There are more than 60 Wisconsin municipalities with a population of 85,000 that do not disinfect water, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Treating municipal water is not required in Wisconsin. The Legislature in 2011 rejected a proposal to require treatment. Democrats have introduced a bill in the current session that would require communities to provide disinfection. However, the measure has little likelihood of passage in the Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate.
The study area composed 24 ZIP codes and is served by a dominant health system, the Marshfield Clinic, which provides health care services to 97% of the area's 90,000 residents, including 4,800 children.
That gave researchers the opportunity to use relatively uniform medical records to compare health records, according to Christopher K. Uejio, an assistant professor of geography and public health at Florida State University….