In May 2000, EPA issued final regulations to revise the general publication notification regulations for waterworks. The regulations set the requirements that waterworks must follow regarding the form, manner, frequency, and content of a public notice. Public water systems must notify their customers when they violate EPA or state drinking water regulations (including monitoring requirements) or otherwise provide drinking water that may pose a risk to consumer’s health.
Water systems test regularly for approximately 90 contaminants to make sure that no contaminant is present at levels which may pose a risk to human health.
Unfortunately, water quality can sometimes change. Despite the efforts of water suppliers, problems with drinking water can and do occur.
When it does, people who drink the water have a right to know what happened and what they need to do. The public notice requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act require water suppliers to provide this notice.
Notices must contain:
- A description of the violation that occurred, including the potential health effects
- The population at risk and if alternate water supplies need to be used
- What the water system is doing to correct the problem
- Actions consumers can take
- When the violation occurred and when the system expects it to be resolved
- How to contact the water system for more information
- Language encouraging broader distribution of the notice
Public Notice: Notification Tiers
EPA specifies three categories, or tiers, of public notification. Depending on what tier a violation or situation falls into, water systems have different amounts of time to distribute the notice and different ways to deliver the notice: