Safe drinking Water Safe Drinking Water

Water Quality

Water and the EPA

Water Quality To help assure safe drinking water, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress in 1974. Its purpose is to protect public health by regulating the drinking water supply and sources of drinking water The SDWA is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states. A water provider that for at least 60 days each year;

  • serves piped water to at least 25 persons
  • has 15 service connections

is defined by the EPA as a public water system (PWS).

There are 160,000+ public or private PWS' in the U.S. A Community Water Systems (CWS) is a PWS that serves people year-round in their homes. 268 million people in the U.S. are provided water by a CWS.

The key elements of the SDWA are:

  • establishes health standard for contaminants in drinking water
  • requires public notification of water systems violations
  • requires annual reports (Consumer Confidence Reports) (CCR) to customers on contaminants in their drinking water
  • provisions to protect underground water sources for drinking water
  • requires disinfection of surface water supplies except those with pristine, protected sources
  • provides a loan fund to states for water system upgrades
  • requires assessment of the vulnerability of drinking water sources to contamination
Water suppliers must promptly inform the public if their water has become contaminated by something that can cause illness. The timeliness of the reporting is a function of the severity of the potential illness. Water suppliers have 24 hours to inform their customers of violations of EPA standards “that have the potential to have serious adverse effects on human health as a result of short-term exposure.” Systems will inform customers about violations of less immediate concern in the first water bill sent after the violation, in a (CCR) or by mail within a year. Water Quality Report


Water suppliers are required to provide annual (due by July 1) Consumer Confidence Reports to their customers. These reports contain information on contaminants found in the drinking water, possible health effects, and the water's source. While many water suppliers comply with these reporting requirements, many do not or are late in their submittal to the EPA and their consumers. We have complied a list of reports by State/Water System in our Water Source Table. To see your state's water suppliers select a state .