How do I research the safety of a watershed?


Sep 3, 2015
Current Location
south of the Poconos
Does anyone have ideas on how to research the safety of water you come across in the wild? In addition to biological contaminants that could make a person sick, I'm curious how I can find out about chemical wastes that might be in a water source making it unsafe to drink or bathe in. Things like sewage, manufacturing byproducts, fracking and nuclear waste, oil, car fluids, etc. come to mind.

Edit: This question spies to sources of water near to and outside of cities.


Sometimes traveler is traveling.
Staff member
Jul 28, 2011
Current Location
Rochester, NY
One place to try is some Superfund site research. I was working in an environmental division a while ago and one of my duties was to file the many updates into the big thick wall of books (they were lawyers too) - and came across some superfund stuff. For the hell of it I looked up a pond (that said keep out) we swam in high school. It was listed!!!! Evidently the farmer who owned the property allowed some local companies to dump their 50 gallon barrels of waste chemicals in the pond. Well of course you know the leaked. I probably should glow in the dark by now with all that exposure!! This site looks interesting.
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