Safe Drinking Water Standards
Regulations are made by both federal and state agencies. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) passed by Congress in 1974 and amended in 1986 and 1996 is governed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Office of Ground Water & Drinking Water
Within the EPA, the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water administers the drinking water program under the Public Water Supply Supervision Program. Their functions include:
- Setting the maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for contaminants in drinking water and setting other requirements to ensure that drinking water is safe.
- Delegating primary enforcement responsibilities to the states.
- Monitoring state activities to ensure that regulations are being met.
- Operating the program in states that have not accepted primary enforcement responsibility.
- Providing for continued research on drinking water contaminants.
- Providing technical assistance to the states.
Provided for in the SDWA, is the intent that states accept primary responsibility for enforcement of the states drinking water program (primacy). Under these provisions, each state must establish requirements for public water systems at least as stringent as those set by the EPA. In Virginia, the agency is the Virginia Department of Health.
In addition to the SDWA, the EPA has promulgated several specific rules to address various types of water contaminant problems. Some of these rules are the Surface Water Treatment Rule, the Total Coliform Rule, and the Lead and Copper Rule.