Consumer confidence reports are the centerpiece of the right-to-know provisions in the 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Amendments contain several other provisions aimed at improving public information about drinking water, including the annual public water system compliance report (available from the Office of Drinking Water) and improved public notification in cases where a waterworks owner is not meeting a contaminant standard.
Every community waterworks owner must distribute a consumer confidence report annually by July 1 that contains information about the drinking water provided to its customers during the previous calendar year. The report must contain the following:
Consumer Confidence Reports Rule
Water System Information
- Name and phone number of contact person
- Information on public participation opportunities (time and place for meetings or hearings)
- Information for non-English speaking population (if applicable)
Source of Water
- Type (example: groundwater or surface water), commonly use name, and location. Location should be limited to general terms due to security concerns.
- Availability of source water assessment.
- PMCL, MCLG, Level 1 Assessment, Level 2 Assessment
- If applicable, treatment technique, MRDL, MRDLG, action level, variances and exemptions
Table of detected contaminants
- Use compliance results for samples collected in the previous calendar. If compliance samples were not collected, then use the most recent results from compliance samples collected in the last 5 years.
- List the likely source of each detected contaminant.
- (OPTIONAL)Waterworks may consider including a brief statement about the lack of any compliance contaminant detections, especially for very important contaminants that the customers may be interested in. Otherwise, customers may think that no samples for those important contaminants were collected. For example, if there were no coliform detections, the waterworks owner might say “We are pleased to report to you that there were no detections of total coliforms or fecal coliforms in the monthly samples collected during the past calendar year.”
- Use a separate table to list non-detected contaminants or non-regulated contaminants. Non-regulated contaminants include such things as iron, manganese, pH, hardness, alkalinity, MTBE, and many others.
- Explain each monitoring and reporting violation that occurred in the reporting period plus any PMCL or treatment technique violations for any contaminants listed in the table of detected contaminants that occurred in the reporting period. (Waterworks owners should have received a notice of violation from VDH for any such violations.)
Required Educational Information
- Mandatory language addressing vulnerable populations and contaminants reasonably expected to be in drinking water.
- Informational statements on nitrate, lead, and TTHM (if applicable).
- If arsenic was detected in the drinking water at levels greater than 5 ppb but less than or equal to 10 ppb, then educational information must be included. If arsenic was detected at levels greater than 10 ppb, then mandatory health effects language must be included.
Educational information -“While your drinking water meets EPA’s standard for arsenic, it does contain low levels of arsenic. EPA’s standard balances the current understanding of arsenic’s possible health effects against the costs for removing arsenic from drinking water. EPA continues to research the health effects of low levels of arsenic which is a mineral known to cause cancer in humans at high concentrations and is linked to other health effects such as skin damage and circulatory problems. ”
Health effects language -“Some people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of the PMCL over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. ”
- EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline number (1-800-426-4791)
- (OPTIONAL) Waterworks may consider including information about water system improvements the waterworks owner intends to make or about water quality problems the customers have expressed concern about.
- Direct delivery may include electronic delivery methods and procedures described by EPA (and accepted by the Virginia Department of Health) in a guidance memo dated January 3, 2013. Contact your local ODW field office for additional information.
- Distribute the CCR to all customers (those that receive water bills) by July 1 and make a “good faith effort” to reach other consumers who do not receive water bills.
- Make the CCR available to anyone who requests a copy, regardless of how or when the report was originally distributed.
- Send a copy of the final CCR to the appropriate engineering field office of the Virginia Department of Health, at the same time the report is distributed to the customers and send a signed certification form to VDH at the same time.
- Waterworks serving 100,000 or more persons must also post its current report on a publicly accessible site on the Internet.
- Waterworks serving less than 10,000 persons have the option of publishing the report in a local newspaper of general circulation instead of direct mailings or deliveries.
The CCR iWriter is a web-based program that allows waterworks owners and operators to create their CCRs by answering required questions and filling in blanks. It was developed by EPA, is free, and is secure. It is accessed from the EPA web site CCR iWriter Login.
Additional VDH resources:
- Consumer Confidence Report Certification (PDF)
- 2020 CCR Electronic Delivery Guidelines
- 2020 CCR Preparation Guidelines