Outbreaks of disease from drinking water have risen in recent years despite improvements in publicly operated water systems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported.

Well water, and not municipal water systems, appears to be the main problem area for drinking water, the CDC said in a report on both drinking water and recreational waters.

"Regarding drinking water, the first important finding from this report is that the drinking water outbreaks increased from 17 in 1997 and 1998 to 39 in 1999 and 2000," said Sherline Lee of the CDC. "The observed increase in drinking water illness outbreaks largely reflects problems associated with drinking water from small private wells that are independently owned and operated. "We would like to point out that outbreaks in regulated drinking water systems have not increased, indicating that efforts by the drinking water industry, public health officials and regulatory agencies have been successful in preventing illness," she noted. "We urge the public to actively think about the water they drink. Whether the water comes from a tap or from a bottle, the public should find out where the water they are drinking comes from, and whether it has been made safe to drink. If you are an owner or user of a private well, make sure that your well is properly constructed, maintained and tested."