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Testing Your Water

Safe Drinking Water Act — Highlights

The Safe Drinking Water Act was enacted on December 16, 1974 to protect public drinking water systems in the U.S. from harmful contaminants. The Act directs EPA to develop:

  • National primary drinking water regulations:
  • Underground injection control regulations to protect underground sources of drinking water;
  • Protection programs for sole-source aquifers.                           Water Filters

Unfortunately, implementation of the Act was slow. So in 1986, Congress passed amendments in an effort to quicken EPA’s pace in issuing standards and implementing the various protection programs. Notably, the 1986 amendments included provisions requiring EPA to:

  • Set drinking water regulations for 83 specified contaminants by 1989;
  • Establish requirements for disinfection and filtration of public water supplies and provide related technical assistance to small communities;
  • Ban the use of lead pipes and lead solder in new drinking water distribution systems;
  • Establish an elective wellhead protection program around public water supply wells;
  • Establish an elective demonstration grant program for States and local authorities having designated sole-source aquifers to develop ground water protection programs;
  • Issue rules for monitoring wells that inject wastes below a drinking water source.    Water Filters

To date, EPA has established close to 80 National Primary Drinking Water Standards. The agency has also issued secondary drinking water regulations that protect the public from drinking water with an unpleasant odor or appearance. These secondary standards are merely guidelines for public water utilities to follow; they are not enforceable.

Features of the 1996 amendments include the establishment of programs to train and certify competent water treatment plant operators, as well as the establishment of key drinking water standards for Cryptosporidium, certain carcinogens, and other contaminants that threaten drinking water in the U.S. In addition, the amendments will require community water systems serving more than 10,000 customers to notify them annually of the levels of federally regulated contaminants in their drinking water. These notifications must also include information on the presence of suspicious but still unregulated substances. If there is a violation, the notifications must contain information about the health effects of the contaminants in question. 

People who use private wells are not immune from water problems either.                  Well Water Filters

To find out why you should filter water from your public water utility,   Click here.

To find out why you should filter water from your private well,    Click here.

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