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Unformatted text preview: Understanding the Safe Drinking Water Act The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was originally passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating the nations public drinking water supply. The law was amended in 1986 and 1996 and requires many actions to protect drinking water and its sourcesrivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells. (SDWA does not regulate private wells which serve fewer than 25 individuals.) SDWA authorizes the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to set national health- based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally- occurring and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water. US EPA, states, and water systems then work together to make sure that these standards are met. Millions of Americans receive high quality drinking water every day from their public water systems, (which may be publicly or privately owned). Nonetheless, drinking water safety cannot be taken for granted. There are a number of threats to drinking water: improperly disposed of chemicals; animal wastes; pesticides; human threats; wastes injected underground; and naturally- occurring substances can all contaminate drinking water. Likewise, drinking water that is not properly treated or disinfected, or which travels through an improperly maintained distribution system, may also pose a health risk. Originally, SDWA focused primarily on treatment as the means of providing safe drinking water at the tap. The 1996 amendments greatly enhanced the existing law by recognizing source water protection, operator training, funding for water system improvements, and public information as important components of safe drinking water. This approach ensures the quality of drinking water by protecting it from source to tap. All public water systems must have at least 15 service connections or serve at least 25 people per day for 60 days of the year. Drinking water standards apply to water systems differently based on their type and size: Community Water System (there are approximately 54,000) - A public water system that serves the same people year-round. Most residences including homes, apartments, and condominiums in cities, small towns, and mobile home parks are served by Community Water Systems. Non-Community Water System- A public water system that serves the public but does not serve the same people year-round. There are two types of non- community systems: Non-Transient Non-Community Water System (there are approximately 20,000) - A noncommunity water system that serves the same people more than six months per year, but not year-round, for example, a school with its own water supply is considered a non-transient system....
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- Spring '11