Do You Know Your SDWA?

Next month, water systems, state primacy agencies, and US EPA will all celebrate the official 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Most of us have been engaged with drinking water issues for a number of years, but not too many of us have first-hand professional knowledge of what the original law (enacted in 1974) did for public health protection in the United States.  A few of us might remember working through the 1986 amendments that, among other things, called for the regulation of 25 new contaminants every three years (whew!).

Most of us, however, came into the drinking water picture around the time of – or just after – the 1996 SDWA Amendments.  This groundbreaking legislation gave us the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund that not only provided a dedicated funding stream for water infrastructure improvements but also allowed funds to be set aside or reserved for brand new concepts such as helping water systems attain and/or maintain their technical, managerial, and financial capacity; a national list of common core elements to be found in all state certification requirements for operators; and a new direction in protecting our sources of drinking water.  It included enhanced consideration of transparency in decisionmaking and right to know actions such as the Consumer Confidence Reports and new Public Notification requirements as well as creation of a new Contaminant Candidate List to help with the effective and orderly assessment of contaminants of concern for possible regulation.  It’s been a very busy and very productive 40 years!

EPA has created a new website http://www2.epa.gov/safedrinkingwater40 that offers an interesting look back over our drinking water history.  Sections are devoted to “Safe Drinking Water Act 101” facts; infographics and multimedia options; SDWA milestones and connections to local water Consumer Confidence Reports; and resources appropriate teachers and students beginning with kindergarten games and running through high school projects and discussions.

Take a look…you’ll feel good about the work you’ve been doing.

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