Summary

The EPA promulgates national primary drinking water regulations for public water systems. These regulations include maximum contamination level goals and maximum contamination levels for each contaminant which may have an adverse effect on human health and may exist in a public water system (SDWA §1412).

The EPA delegates the states with primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems provided the state can satisfactorily meet the minimum federal requirements (SDWA §1413).

The EPA has ultimate authority to enforce the national primary drinking water regulations where it determines that a state has not commenced appropriate enforcement actions. Moreover, owners and operators of public water systems must notify consumers of violations of the act including the failure to meet applicable maximum contaminant levels, treatment technique requirements, or testing procedures under national primary drinking water regulations (SDWA §1414).

29. See Code of Federal Regulations. Title 40, part 143.

30. Underground injection is defined in the act as "the subsurface emplacement of fluids by well injection [and does not include] the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage." Safe Drinking Water Act. Sec. 1421(d)(1). U.S. Code;. Vol. 42, sec. 300h(d)(1).

A state with primary enforcement responsibility can grant variances and exemptions from national primary drinking water regulations to public water systems within its jurisdiction. For instance, a maximum contaminant level requirement or treatment technique requirement in the regulations can be exempted provided the applicable conditions are satisfied (SDWA §§1415-1416).

The act prohibits the use of lead pipes, solder, or flux in the installation or repair of any public water system or in the plumbing of a facility connected to a public water system which provides water for human consumption (SDWA §1417).

The state underground injection programs contain minimum requirements to assure that underground injections do not endanger drinking water sources. An approved state program gives the state primary enforcement responsibility for underground water sources. State programs regulate underground injections through permit system (SDWA §§1421-1422).

The EPA can exercise its emergency powers and take any action necessary to protect human health when it receives information that a contaminant is present or is likely to enter a public water system or an underground source of drinking water (SDWA §1431).

The EPA promulgates regulations requiring public water systems to implement monitoring programs for unregulated contaminants. The regulations include a list of unregulated contaminants which require monitoring. The results of the monitoring go to the primary enforcement authority (SDWA §1445).

The act specifically provides for judicial review and includes a citizens suit provision (SDWA §§1448-1449).

The act contains other provisions to regulate the safety of drinking water, including a recall of all drinking water coolers with lead-lined tanks, and federal assistance programs for states to remedy lead contamination in school drinking water (SDWA §1461-1466).

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