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B Overview of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) The reauthorized federal Safe Drinking Water Act was signed on August 6, 1996. The Act encompasses several major themes: Standard-Setting Process â¢ The law updates the standard-setting process by focusing regula- tions on contaminants known to pose greater public health risks. â¢ It replaces the current lawâs demand for 25 new standards every three years with a new process based on occurrence, relative risk, and cost-benefit considerations. â¢ It also requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to select at least five new candidate contaminants to consider for regulation every five years. Consumer Confidence Reports â¢ EPA is directed to require public water systems to provide custom- ers with annual âConsumer Confidence Reportsâ in newspapers and by direct mail. SOURCE: American Water Works Association. Available online at http://www.awwa. org/bluethumb/understandingthesafe.htm 128
APPENDIX B 129 â¢ The reports must list levels of regulated contaminants with Maxi- mum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs), along with plainly worded definitions of both. â¢ The reports must also include a plainly worded statement of the health concerns for any contaminants for which there has been a viola- tion, describe the utilityâs sources of drinking water, and provide data on unregulated contaminants for which monitoring is required, including Cryptosporidium and radon. â¢ EPA must establish a toll-free hot line customers can call to get additional information. Source-Water Protection â¢ EPA is required to publish guidelines for states to develop water source assessment programs that delineate protection areas and assess contamination risks. â¢ A source water petition program for voluntary, incentive-based partnerships among public water systems and others to reduce contami- nation in source water is authorized. State Revolving Loan Fund â¢ The law establishes a new State Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF) of $1 billion per year to provide loans to public water systems to comply with the new SDWA. â¢ It also requires states to allocate 15 percent of the SRLF to systems serving 10,000 or fewer people unless no eligible projects are available for loans. â¢ It also allows states to jointly administer SDWA and Clean Water Act loan programs and transfer up to 33 percent between the two ac- counts. Small System Assistance â¢ EPA is required to identify technologies that are affordable for small systems to comply with drinking water regulations. â¢ Technical assistance funds and Small System Technical Assistance Centers are authorized to meet the training and technical needs of small systems. â¢ States are authorized to grant variances for compliance with drink- ing water regulations for systems serving 3,300 or fewer persons.
130 APPENDIX B Operator Certification â¢ EPA is required to publish certification guidelines for operators of community and nontransient noncommunity public water systems. â¢ States that do not have operator certification programs that meet the requirements of the guidelines will lose 20 percent of their SRLF grant. Capacity Development â¢ States must ensure that all new systems have compliance capacity and that all current systems maintain capacity, or they will lose 20 percent of their SRLF grant. Increased Communication â¢ Although EPA will continue to provide policy, regulations, and guidance, state governments will now have more regulatory flexibilityâ allowing for improved communication between water providers and their local regulators. â¢ Increased collaboration will result in solutions that work better and are more fully supported by the regulated community. Monitoring â¢ States that have a source water assessment program may adopt alternative monitoring requirements to provide permanent monitoring relief for public water systems in accordance with EPA guidance.