by Brendan M. Lynch | March 01, 2005
Potential bankruptcies, lackluster service and cut routes are not the only things souring the airline industry. Even the water is iffy.
    In January, the Environmental Protection Agency posted results from tests of water from galley taps, water fountains and lavatory faucets on domestic aircraft. Of the 169 planes at 12 U.S. airports tested late last year, 17.2 percent carried water containing disease-causing organisms known as coliform bacteria.
    “Passengers with suppressed immune systems and others concerned should request bottled or canned water and should refrain from drinking tea or coffee, since that water is not ordinarily boiled,” said an EPA spokesperson.
    A test in 2004 of 158 aircraft found 12.7 percent tested positive for coliform.
    The airline industry appears to be taking the problem seriously. Late last year, the Air Transport Association, a trade group representing U.S. airlines, announced a new two-year joint plan, developed with the EPA, to strengthen both the testing and disinfection of 12 member airlines’ drinking water. Under the plan:
    " ATA member carriers now will annually test water from each aircraft and report the results to the EPA. 
    " These carriers will disinfect each plane’s water systems at least four times per year and drinking-water carts once a month.
    " If the results are positive, carriers will start disinfecting their planes’ water systems on a regular basis.
    “We have voluntarily agreed to take these additional steps to address any lingering questions about the quality of aircraft drinking water,” said an ATA statement.