U.S. EPA Finalizes Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5)

Dec. 22, 2021

This action will address the public health and environmental risks of PFAS in drinking water

The U.S. EPA finalized the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) to establish nationwide monitoring for 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and lithium in drinking water.

According to EPA, this action will address the public health and environmental risks of PFAS in drinking water and marks a significant milestone in EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

“At EPA, we are advancing the science and the monitoring that are necessary to protect all communities from PFAS,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in the news release. “With the data provided by this rule, EPA will be able to develop better regulations while the agency, states, and our local partners will be able to make protective public health decisions that are grounded in science.”

The Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule monitors for priority unregulated contaminants in drinking water every five years.

Now that the UCMR 5 will collect new data on 29 PFAS, EPA hopes it will expand its understanding of the frequency and magnitude at which these chemicals are found in the nation’s drinking water systems. According to EPA, the expanded monitoring in UCMR 5 will improve EPA’s ability to conduct state and regional assessments of contamination, with a focus on assisting disadvantaged communities.

This data will also be a potential source of information for systems with infrastructure funding needs for emerging contaminant remediation, added EPA. The rule requires participating drinking water systems to collect samples from 2023 to 2025 and report final results through 2026.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requires all drinking water systems serving between 3,300 and 10,000 people to participate in UCMR. A representative sample of systems serving fewer than 3,300 people participate is subject to the availability of appropriations and sufficient laboratory capacity, according to EPA. If the necessary funds are provided, the UCMR 5 will significantly expand the number of small drinking water systems participating in the program.

More information on UCMR 5 can be found here.

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