The SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT (SDWA) is the principal federal law in
The SDWA applies to every public water system (PWS) in the United States. There are currently about 155,000 public water systems providing water to almost all Americans at some time in their lives. The Act does not cover private wells.
The SDWA does not apply to bottled water .
* 1 National Primary Drinking Water Regulations
* 1.1 Microorganisms * 1.2 Disinfectants * 1.3 Disinfection by-products
* 1.4 Inorganic Chemicals
* 1.4.1 "
* 1.5 Organic Chemicals * 1.6 Radionuclides
* 2 Health advisories
* 3 Future standards
* 3.1 Non-community water systems * 3.2 Unregulated contaminants
* 4 Monitoring, compliance and enforcement
* 5 Related programs
* 5.2 Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program
* 5.3 Whistleblower protection
* 6 History
* 6.1 Prelude * 6.2 1974 Act * 6.3 1986 amendments
* 6.4 1996 SDWA amendments
* 6.4.1 Main points of the 1996 amendments
* 6.5 2005 amendment * 6.6 2011 amendment * 6.7 2015 amendments
NATIONAL PRIMARY DRINKING WATER REGULATIONS
The SDWA requires EPA to establish National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWRs) for contaminants that may cause adverse public health effects.
The regulations include both mandatory levels (Maximum Contaminant Levels , or MCLs) and nonenforceable health goals (Maximum Contaminant Level Goals, or MCLGs) for each included contaminant. MCLs have additional significance because they can be used under the Superfund law as "Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirements" in cleanups of contaminated sites on the National Priorities List .
Federal drinking water standards are organized into six groups:
* Microorganisms * Disinfectants * Disinfection Byproducts * Inorganic Chemicals * Organic Chemicals * Radionuclides.
EPA has issued standards for
EPA has issued standards for chlorine , chloramine and chlorine dioxide .
EPA has issued standards for bromate , chlorite , haloacetic acids and trihalomethanes .
EPA has issued standards for antimony , arsenic , asbestos , barium , beryllium , cadmium , chromium , copper , cyanide , fluoride , lead , mercury , nitrate , nitrite , selenium and thallium .
The 1986 amendments require EPA to set standards limiting the concentration of lead in public water systems, and defines "lead free" pipes as: (1) solders and flux containing not more than 0.2 percent lead; (2) pipes and pipe fittings containing not more than 8.0 percent lead; and (3) plumbing fittings and fixtures as defined in industry-developed voluntary standards (issued no later than August 6, 1997), or standards developed by EPA in lieu of voluntary standards.
EPA issued an initial lead and copper regulation in 1991 and last revised the regulation in 2007.
Congress tightened the definition of "lead free" plumbing in a 2011 amendment to the Act.
EPA has issued standards for 53 organic compounds, including benzene , dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD ), PCBs , styrene , toluene , vinyl chloride and several pesticides .
EPA has issued standards for alpha particles , beta particles and photon emitters, radium and uranium . EPA proposed regulations for radon in 1991 and 1999.
EPA has issued "health advisories" for some contaminants; some of which have not been regulated with MCLs. Health advisories provide technical information to public health officials about health effects, methods for chemical analysis, and treatment methods. The advisories are not enforceable. As of 2017, health advisories have been issued for:
NON-COMMUNITY WATER SYSTEMS
Future NPDWR standards will apply to non-transient non-community water systems because of concern for the long-term exposure of a stable population. It is important to note that EPA's decision to apply future NPDWRs to non-transient non-community water systems may have a significant impact on Department of Energy facilities that operate their own drinking water systems.
The SDWA requires EPA to identify and list unregulated contaminants which may require regulation. The Agency must publish this list, called the CONTAMINANT CANDIDATE LIST (CCL) every five years. EPA is required to decide whether to regulate at least five or more listed contaminants. EPA uses this list to prioritize research and data collection efforts, which support the regulatory determination process.
As of 2017, EPA has developed four CCLs:
* CCL1: 50 chemical and 10 microbiological contaminants/contaminant groups were listed in 1998. In 2003 EPA made a determination that no regulatory action was needed on nine of these contaminants. * CCL2: EPA carried forward the remaining 51 contaminants from CCL1 for consideration in 2005. In 2008 EPA determined that no regulatory action was needed on 11 of these contaminants. * CCL3: EPA revised its listing process, based on recommendations from the National Research Council and the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (a Federal Advisory Committee ). It expanded its initial review to 7,500 potential chemical and microbial contaminants, and subsequently narrowed this universe to a list of 600 for further evaluation. 104 chemicals or chemical groups and 12 microbiological contaminants were listed in 2009. In 2011 EPA announced it would develop regulations for perchlorate , which had been listed beginning with CCL1. In 2016 EPA determined that no regulatory action was needed on four other listed contaminants, and delayed determination on a fifth contaminant, in order to review additional data. * CCL4: EPA carried forward the CCL 3 contaminants for which determinations had not been made, and requested public comment on additional contaminants. 97 chemicals or chemical groups and 12 microbial contaminants were listed in 2016.
Natural Resources Defense Council
MONITORING, COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT
Public water systems are required to regularly monitor their water for contaminants. Water samples must be analyzed using EPA-approved testing methods, by laboratories that are certified by EPA or a state agency.
A PWS must notify its customers when it violates drinking water regulations or is providing drinking water that may pose a health risk. Such notifications are provided either immediately, as soon as possible (but within 30 days of the violation) or annually, depending on the health risk associated with the violation. Community water systems—those systems that serve the same people throughout the year—must provide an annual "Consumer Confidence Report" to customers. The report identifies contaminants, if any, in the drinking water and explains the potential health impacts.
Oversight of public water systems is managed by "primacy" agencies,
which are either state government agencies, Indian tribes or EPA
regional offices. All state and territories, except
AIRLINE WATER SUPPLIES
In 2004, EPA tested drinking water quality on commercial aircraft and found that 15 percent of tested aircraft water systems tested positive for total coliform bacteria . EPA published a final regulation for aircraft public water systems in 2009. The regulation requires air carriers operating in the U.S. to conduct coliform sampling, management practices, corrective action, public notification, operator training, and reporting and recordkeeping. An airline with a non-complying aircraft must restrict public access to the on-board water system for a specified period.
UNDERGROUND INJECTION CONTROL (UIC) PROGRAM
The 1974 act authorized EPA to regulate injection wells in order to protect underground sources of drinking water. The UIC permit system is organized into six classes of wells.
* Class I. Industrial waste (hazardous and non-hazardous) and
municipal wastewater disposal wells
* Class II. Oil and gas related injection wells (except wells solely
used for production; see
EPA has granted UIC primacy enforcement authority to 34 states for Class I, II, III, IV and V wells. Seven additional states and two tribes have been granted primacy authority for Class II wells only. EPA manages enforcement of Class VI wells directly.
Hydraulic Fracturing Exemption
Congress amended the SDWA in 2005 to exclude hydraulic fracturing ,
an industrial process for recovering oil and natural gas , from
coverage under the UIC program, except where diesel fuels are used.
This exclusion has been called the "
The SDWA includes a whistleblower protection provision. Employees in the US who believe they were fired or suffered another adverse action related to enforcement of this law have 30 days to file a written complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration .
Prior to the SDWA there were few national enforceable requirements for drinking water. Improvements in testing were allowing the detection of smaller concentrations of contaminant and allowing more tests to be run.
Under state programs, some water works managers mistakenly believed that the major, real threats were behind them and their primary focus was on providing consistent and effective service through aging infrastructure, with major efforts at maintaining the bacteriological quality of drinking water.
Safe Drinking Water Act
Historically, up through 1914, drinking water quality in the United
States was managed at the state and local level. After that,
interstate waters were protected using
The 1974 law very clearly defined roles and responsibilities, giving EPA the job of generating scientifically based standards that would be applicable to all water supplies that served 25 or more customers and creating a process for setting new standards. EPA was mandated to contract with the National Academy of Sciences for a major study of contaminants in drinking water that might have health significance and to issue revised regulations once the NAS report was completed.
The 1986 SDWA AMENDMENTS required EPA to apply future NPDWRs to both
community and non-transient non-community water systems when it
evaluated and revised current regulations. The first case in which
this was applied was the "Phase I" final rule, published on July 8,
1987. At that time NPDWRs were promulgated for certain synthetic
volatile organic compounds and applied to non-transient non-community
water systems as well as community water systems. This rulemaking also
clarified that non-transient non-community water systems were not
subject to MCLs that were promulgated before July 8, 1987. The 1986
amendments were signed into law by President
In addition to requiring more contaminants to be regulated, the 1986 amendments included:
* Well head protection * New monitoring for certain substances * Filtration for certain surface water systems * Disinfection for certain groundwater systems * Restriction on lead in solder and plumbing * More enforcement powers.
1996 SDWA AMENDMENTS
In 1996, Congress amended the
Safe Drinking Water Act
Main Points Of The 1996 Amendments
* Consumer Confidence Reports: All community water systems must
prepare and distribute annual reports about the water they provide,
including information on detected contaminants, possible health
effects, and the water's source.
* Cost-Benefit Analysis : EPA must conduct a thorough cost-benefit
analysis for every new standard to determine whether the benefits of a
drinking water standard justify the costs.
* Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. States can use this fund to
help water systems make infrastructure or management improvements or
to help systems assess and protect their source water.
Energy Policy Act of 2005
Congress passed the Reduction of
The Drinking Water Protection Act was enacted on August 7, 2015. It required EPA to submit to Congress a strategic plan for assessing and managing risks associated with algal toxins in drinking water provided by public water systems. EPA submitted the plan to Congress in November 2015.
The Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act
was signed by President
The SDWA can promote environmental justice by increasing the safety
of drinking water in the communities most adversely impacted by water
contamination. Communities of color and low-income communities are
disproportionately impacted by unsafe drinking water and associated
health problems in the United States. Specifically, Native American
reservations and communities with dense Latino and African American
populations are at higher risk of exposure to drinking water
contaminants. Contaminants found in the drinking water of such
communities include nitrates , coliform , and lead , which have been
linked to cancer , reproductive health problems, gastrointestinal
illness , and other health problems. One study found that levels of
contaminants in the drinking water of two
In addressing the updated priorities associated with the act, EPA states that its first priority is to "promote equity... in disadvantaged, small, and environmental justice communities," specifically addressing that disadvantaged communities face disproportionate risks associated with exposure to contaminated drinking water.
Clean Water Act
* ^ A B United States. Pub.L. 99–359; 100 Stat. 642. "Safe
Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986." 1986-06-19.
* ^ A B United States. Pub.L. 104–182, 110 Stat. 1613. "Safe
Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996." 1996-08-06.
* ^ United States. Pub.L. 93–523; 88 Stat. 1660; 42 U.S.C. §
300f et seq. 1974-12-16.
* ^ A public water system has at least 15 service connections or
regularly serves at least 25 individuals, at least 60 days per year.
42 U.S.C. § 300f(4)(A)
* ^ "Information about Public Water Systems". Drinking Water
Requirements for States and Public Water Systems. Washington, D.C.:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2015-12-03.
* ^ "About Private Water Wells". EPA. 2015-11-17.
* ^ United States. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C.
§ 301 et seq.
* ^ EPA. "National Primary Drinking Water Regulations." Code of
Federal Regulations, 40 CFR Part 141.
* ^ A B C D E F G "Table of Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants".
Your Drinking Water. EPA. 2016-02-08.
* ^ Safe Drinking Water Act. "Prohibition on use of lead pipes,
solder, and flux." 42 U.S.C. § 300g-6(d).
* ^ EPA. "
Maximum Contaminant Level Goals and National Primary
Drinking Water Regulations for
* ^ "Drinking Water Contaminant Human Health Effects Information:
Human Health and Drinking Water Advisory Documents for Chemical
Contaminants". EPA. 2017-05-09.
* ^ "Basic Information on the CCL and Regulatory Determination".
* ^ EPA (1998-03-02). "Announcement of the Drinking Water
Contaminant Candidate List." Federal Register, 63 FR 10274
* ^ EPA (2003-07-18). "Announcement of Regulatory Determinations
for Priority Contaminants on the Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate
List." 68 FR 42898
* ^ EPA (2005-02-24) "Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List 2."
70 FR 9071
* ^ EPA (2008-07-30). "Regulatory Determinations Regarding
Contaminants on the Second Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List."
73 FR 44251 .
* ^ EPA (2009-10-08). "Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List
3-Final." 74 FR 51850
* ^ "Overview of CCL 3 Process". CCL and Regulatory Determination.
* ^ "
* EPA - Safe Drinking Water