More than 100 million Americans will enjoy greater protection of their drinking water under a new rule issued by the U.S. EPA. The rule targets utilities that provide water from underground sources and requires greater vigilance for potential contamination by disease-causing microorganisms.
"The Bush Administration's Ground Water Rule boosts drinking water purity and public health security," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water. "These first-ever standards will help communities prevent, detect and correct tainted groundwater problems so citizens continue to have clean and affordable drinking water."
The risk-targeting strategy incorporated in the rule provides for:
- Regular sanitary surveys of public water systems to look for significant deficiencies in key operational areas;
- Triggered source-water monitoring when a system that does not sufficiently disinfect drinking water identifies a positive sample during its regular monitoring to comply with existing rules;
- Implementation of corrective actions by groundwater systems with a significant deficiency or evidence of source water fecal contamination; and
- Compliance monitoring for systems that are sufficiently treating drinking water to ensure effective removal of pathogens.
A groundwater system is subject to triggered source-water monitoring if its treatment methods don't already remove 99.99% of viruses. Systems must begin to comply with the new requirements by Dec. 1, 2009.