Data Stories
Telling powerful stories with numbers
Aging infrastructure and changing regulations challenge local water systems

Part III

This part of the series contains four articles below:

Aging infrastructure and changing regulations challenge local water systems. Community water systems versus private wells. About one-third of Berks residents have fluoridated water. RAWA to replace lead water lines in homes.


Aging infrastructure and changing regulations challenge local water systems

By Anthony Orozco
Journalist for Berks Vital Signs

November 4, 2019 -- A hiker in French Creek State Park takes a swig from her canteen as she continues down a trail. A father boils water for pasta as his kid gets ready to jump into the shower after soccer practice.

Recent contamination threatens Berks water sources


By Anthony Orozco
Journalist for Berks Vital Signs

 November 4, 2019 -- While farming has a reputation for impairing local waterways, Berks watersheds also face an ongoing onslaught from other manmade threats and contamination risks:

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection fined Sunoco $148,000 for negatively affecting water wells in Berks, Chester and Lebanon counties. The construction of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline, built to transport natural gas liquids east from western Pennsylvania and neighboring states, tainted 16 private wells.

In June 2019, Oley Township-based construction compa

Farming in Berks yields cash, crops… and challenges to water quality

Part I

Water, water, everywhere, but is it safe to drink?

Several years ago, Berks County Community Foundation launched Berks Vital Signs, a website that provides data about our community. The site is updated as new data is available, providing a way for civic leaders and residents to track progress on key indicators of community vitality.

Earlier this year, the Community Foundation added a new component to Berks Vital Signs by asking journalists to dig a bit deeper into some key issues that impact the quality of life here. The latest report, which will be released over the coming days, looks at how we use and care for water in Berks Count

Technology transforming education in Berks

By Anthony Orozco

Journalist for Berks Vital Signs


June 14, 2019 -- Governor Mifflin students are peering at the screens of their phones and tablets when suddenly an image of the Great Sphinx of Giza appears for them to examine.

A few miles away in the farmland of the Tulpehocken Area School District, children wear headsets to be virtually transported among a crowd of asylum seekers gathering at the U.S.-Mexico border.

At Southern Middle School in Reading, seventh-grade student Sharelle Scott concentrates on lines of computer code – delicate building blocks of a video game she creates in real time.

“I want to cre

What’s the state of hunger in Berks County?

The issue affects tens of thousands of residents.


March 27, 2019 -- As the sun began to sink beyond the Schuylkill River, throwing long shadows from the sloping roofs of the buildings in southeast Reading, a line of people formed outside of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, hoping to avail themselves of its monthly food pantry.

“This is a big help for us,” said Teresa Guzmán, who is 71 years old, disabled and battling bone cancer. “I’ve been coming here for almost three years. What we can afford to buy is not enough to get through the month.”

Others in line agreed about the food pantry services

Berks Heim: What do voters want?

Poll shows Berks County residents overwhelmingly oppose selling Berks Heim


READING, PA (March 14, 2019) – A new independent poll shows 63 percent of voters registered in Berks County want the county-owned nursing home retained by the government. Only 10 percent of voters favor selling it while 27 percent are undecided.

Interviews with 402 registered voters were conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research, Inc. from March 4 to March 9. The margin of error for that sample size is +/-4.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.




Many voters (44 percent) indicated a willingness to pay more in taxes if it

Berks Education: Uneven and Unequal

Closing the achievement gap in education is considered an imperative in many circles. In communities across the country, low-income students and those with disabilities or without native English skills lag behind their counterparts in measures such as test scores.

Berks County is no exception. Looking at the key milestones of 3rd grade reading and 8th grade math, 60% of all 3rd graders and 33% of all 8th graders reached proficiency on state tests. That compares to 43% of historically underperforming 3rd graders and 17% of historically underperforming 8th graders. Historically underperforming students include students who come from economical

Reading: A City Making Progress

The City of Reading faces significant challenges: median household incomes have declined nearly 30% since 2000, 40% of residents live in poverty, and rent is largely unaffordable, consuming almost half of renters’ income on average. Yet, despite these challenges, the City is showing signs of vitality and improvement, including growing diversity and youthfulness, improved crime rates, and increased high school graduation.

Reading has seen a dramatic change in its demographics since 2000, with a 78% increase in its share of Hispanics, making it a majority minority city. In 2016, FiveThirtyEight highlighted that Reading’s dem

More powerful connections

Dashboards provide access to featured indicators specific to select geographies.

Map Data
Interactive map visualizations provide unique analytical power, showing variations within communities.