Smart discussion about toxics policy reform

Your Drinking Water: EPA’s New Framework for Contaminants

This week, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Drinking Water Advisory Council met for a three-day meeting (July 21-23) reviewing the new drinking water strategy proposed by EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

EPA’s visionary plan includes four principles to provide greater protection of drinking water:

  • Address contaminants as groups rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved cost-effectively.
  • Foster development of new drinking water technologies to address health risks posed by a broad array of contaminants.
  • Use the authority of multiple statutes to protect drinking water.
  • Partner with states to share more complete data from monitoring of public water systems (PWS).

EWG applauds the renewed focus on drinking water quality under the new administration and the agency’s plans to explore various pathways for protecting our water supplies from pollution.

The advisory council discussions tackled a broad range of water topics, with a special focus on using EPA’s authority under several existing environmental statutes – the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). The goal is to prevent pollutant runoff into source waters as well as to minimize or eliminate contaminant discharges from agricultural, industrial and urban sources.

EWG’s National Tapwater Quality Database is a Model

EWG research on tap water quality, presented in our National Drinking Water database, has been instrumental in driving forward the national debate on safe drinking water policy. EWG assembled an unprecedented database of 20 million drinking water quality tests performed by water utilities since 2004. Our analysis revealed a total of 316 contaminants in water supplied to 256 million Americans in 48,000 communities in 45 states. Among the contaminants were 202 chemicals that are not subject to any government regulation or safety standards for drinking water.

The National Drinking Water database developed by EWG presents a working model for making information about tap water quality accessible to everyone – state and federal drinking water authorities, the general public, water utilities and researchers. We eagerly support the fourth principle in the EPA new water strategy that would lead to sharing water quality monitoring data from public water systems. Typically, this information is maintained by state water offices, which collect the results from the utilities to enforce state and federal water quality standards.

Moving forward – or back?

Throughout most of the 20th century, Americans enjoyed a record of improvement in drinking water quality and safety. But with a growing population, urban sprawl and intensive, expanding agricultural activities, source water quality has been negatively affected, threatening to reverse great public health gains made with the historical development of treatment facilities for drinking water and wastewater. Tap water quality cannot be taken for granted. More and more water utilities are having to turn to water sources compromised by various forms of pollution as water scarcity becomes a fact of our daily lives. Unless source water protection becomes a priority for government, businesses, communities and individuals, tap water safety around the country would suffer.

Join EPA’s Web Dialogue about Water Quality on July 28th & 29th

Like air quality, drinking water quality is an environmental issue that affects every single person in the country. We are all stakeholders in the government’s decisions that determine water policy. To encourage public participation in the development of its new strategy for addressing drinking water contaminants, the EPA is hosting a web dialogue on July 28 and 29 titled “Drinking Water Strategy:  A New Framework for Addressing Contaminants as Groups.” The dialogue is free and open to the public. You can register here.

Please spread the word by sharing this announcement with others. We encourage Enviroblog readers to join in the dialogue, offer your opinions, share your insights and make the voice of your community heard in this important national conversation.

After all, tap water is something that we depend on every single day.

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2 Responses to “Your Drinking Water: EPA’s New Framework for Contaminants”

  1. Cliff Travis says:

    Your registration link for the open forum on the 28-9th is broken. Any chance someone could fix it?

  2. Cliff, Thanks for letting us know! I fixed the broken link. Hope you can join the webinar. Best, Lisa