Protection of our nation's drinking water reached a significant milestone last month with the completion by drinking water systems, in conjunction with states and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of 32,000 assessments of lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and aquifers that provide drinking water to communities across the country, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water G. Tracy Mehan III announced Friday. The assessments will provide critical information for protection of the sources of drinking water.
"We must ensure that when we turn on the tap, we can trust that the water we drink is safe for us and our families," said Mehan. "Due to the extraordinary efforts of thousands of people across the country, we have new information at the local level about potential sources of contamination to our water. We can now build on our success and use this information to renew and invigorate our efforts to protect the sources of our nation's drinking water."
As part of this effort, more than 500 people representing water systems, state and local governments, conservation and public health groups, and the private sector are attending the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's first national conference on "Protecting the Sources of the Nation's Drinking Water" June 2-4 in Washington, D.C.
The three-day conference will focus on fostering partnerships among the groups, and build on successes across the country. The sessions will feature discussions by technical assistance providers, state program managers, drinking water utilities, local watershed organizations, agricultural experts and others. The keynote speaker is former U. S. Senator Paul Simon.
In his speech "Challenges and Opportunities of Source Water Protection," Assistant Administrator Mehan will applaud the successes of the program and address ways the participants can maximize their efforts to better protect the nation's drinking water. "I am pleased to report that 32,000 assessments have been completed nationwide and the balance will be completed within the year," Mehan announced. "We are on track for a successful completion of this statutory goal."
The1996 Safe Drinking Water Amendments required assessments of potential sources of contamination of drinking water in 52,000 community water systems across the country which serve more than 90 percent of Americans. Potential sources of contamination may include underground storage tanks, agricultural runoff, overflowing storm sewers, septic systems, and accidental industrial discharges.
The 2003 National Source Water Protection Conference runs June 2-4 at the Hotel Washington in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit Web site www.epa.gov/safewater/protect.html.