Safe Drinking Water Act USC f et seq

Basic objective. The primary objectives of the act are twofold: (1) to protect the nation's sources of drinking water and (2) to protect public health to the maximum extent possible, using proper water treatment techniques. The act establishes the need to set contaminant levels to protect public health. These levels were established in regulations issued pursuant to the act, which requires the EPA to develop regulations for the protection of underground sources of drinking water. Any underground injection of wastewater must be authorized by a permit. Such a permit will not be issued until the applicant can prove that such disposal will not affect drinking water sources. Finally, the act requires procedures for inspection, monitoring, record keeping, and reporting.

Key provisions. Key provisions of the act can be summarized as

1. The establishment of national primary drinking water standards based upon maximum contaminant levels.

2. The establishment of treatment techniques to meet the standards.

3. The establishment of secondary drinking water standards.

4. The establishment of those contaminants for which standards are set, based on studies conducted by the National Academy of Sciences. The EPA shall request comments from the Science Advisory Board, established under the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1978, prior to proposals on new or revised maximum contaminant levels.

5. The establishment of state management programs for enforcement responsibilities. States must submit regulatory programs to the EPA for approval. These programs must set primary and secondary drinking water standards which meet or better the national standards. They must also regulate by permit facilities which treat drinking water supplies.

6. The protection of underground sources of drinking water.

7. The establishment of procedures for development, implementation, and assessment of demonstration programs designed to protect critical aquifer protection areas located within areas designated as sole or principal source aquifers.

8. The requirements for state programs to protect wellhead areas from contaminants which may have any adverse effects on public health.

9. Originally, the EPA was required to regulate 25 additional drinking water contaminants each year. The 1996 amendments changed this requirement and instead mandated that the EPA regulate the contaminants that pose the greatest risk and are most likely to occur in water systems.

10. The 1996 amendments created a fund that aids water systems. The fund provides assistance for infrastructure upgrades and source water protection programs.

Enforcement responsibilities; federal-state relationship. The passage of the Drinking Water Act in December 1974, and amendments passed through 1996, have broadened the EPA's authority and responsibility to regulate the quality of the nation's drinking water regulations, with the states having the major responsibility for enforcing these regulations.

States must submit drinking water programs to the EPA for approval. These programs must meet, at a minimum, the federal standards for drinking water quality. They must also include procedural aspects of inspection and monitoring, as well as control technology and emergency procedures for noncompliance to protect the public health. States are also given enforcement responsibilities for the control of underground sources of water supply. These responsibilities must include permitting procedures.

Accomplishments and impacts. There are more than 240,000 public water supply systems serving over 200 million people. Many of these systems are not using the most effective equipment and techniques to collect, treat, and deliver potable water to the public. According to the EPA (EPA, 1979), more than half of these systems are out of compliance because of

1. Inadequate treatment techniques

2. Inadequately trained operators

3. Poor system design

4. Inadequate monitoring procedures

The only variations from state to state are procedural, such as record keeping. Issues involving other legislation are also closely tied to safe drinking water; for example, the protection of the nation's waterways under the Clean Water Act affects the ultimate protection of the water supply for potable water. Similarly, the leaching of hazardous wastes into groundwater can affect underground water quality. Thus, the quality of sources of drinking water is closely tied by other major legislation to the control of pollution.

Continue reading here: Clean Water Act USC et seq

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