May 18, 2011

EPA Releases Drinking Water Violations Website

Site allows public to research drinking water standards for their community

Environmental Protection Agency officials announced Monday improvements to the availability and usability of drinking water data in the Enforcement and Compliance History Online—ECHO—tool. ECHO now allows the public to search to see whether drinking water in their community met the standards required under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is designed to safeguard the nation’s drinking water and protect people’s health.
Under the act, states are required to report drinking water information periodically to EPA officials. ECHO also includes a new feature identifying drinking water systems that have had serious noncompliance.

The new act information includes:

  • Information about whether drinking water has exceeded drinking water standards
  • A serious violators report that lists all water suppliers with serious noncompliance
  • EPA’s 2009 National Public Water Systems Compliance Report, which is a national summary of compliance and enforcement at public drinking water systems

The serious violators list identifies water systems that have had noncompliance due to a combination of unresolved violations. The data in ECHO shows that overall, the number of systems identified as serious violators continues to decrease due to lead agencies, in most cases the states, more efficiently addressing serious noncompliance.
Currently, approximately 4% of all public water systems are considered serious violators. Through increased oversight and enforcement efforts, EPA officials will continue to work to reduce the rate of noncompliance and the number of public water systems that are serious violators.

Under the act, water suppliers are required to promptly inform customers if drinking water has been contaminated by something that could cause immediate illness or impact people’s health. If such a violation occurs, the water system will announce the violation and provide information on the potential health effects, steps officials are taking to correct the violation and the need to use alternative water supplies until the problem is corrected.