Drinking Water : Legislation, Oversight and Contaminants
Congress has long deliberated on the condition of drinking water infrastructure and drinking water quality as well as the financial and technical challenges some public water systems face in ensuring the delivery of safe and adequate water supplies.
Several events and circumstances -- including source water contamination incidents; water infrastructure damage from natural disasters, such as hurricanes; detection of elevated lead levels in tap water in various cities and schools; and the nationwide need to repair or replace aging drinking water infrastructure -- have increased national attention to these issues.
America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. Chapter 1 focuses on the drinking water provisions of Title II and Title IV of AWIA, which authorize appropriations for several drinking water and wastewater infrastructure programs for projects that promote compliance, address aging drinking water infrastructure and lead in school drinking water, and increase drinking water infrastructure resilience to natural hazards.
Chapter 2 summarizes the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its major programs and regulatory requirements.
The quality of water delivered by public water systems has been regulated at the federal level since enactment of the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
Since then, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued regulations for more than 90 contaminants, and all states (except Wyoming) have assumed primary responsibility for administering the federal drinking water program and overseeing public water system compliance.
Congress last broadly amended the law in 1996. Among the key provisions, the 1996 amendments authorized a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program to help public water systems finance improvements needed to comply with federal drinking water regulations and to address the most serious risks to human health as reported in chapter 3.
Drinking water contaminated with lead in Flint, Michigan, renewed awareness of the danger lead poses to the nation's drinking water supply.
Lead exposure through drinking water is caused primarily by the corrosion of plumbing materials, such as pipes, that carry water from a water system to pipes in homes.
EPA set national standards to reduce lead in drinking water with the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR).
Chapters 4-7 review the issue of elevated lead in drinking water.
According to DOD, about 3 million people in the United States receive drinking water from DOD public water systems, which are to comply with EPA and state health-based regulations.
EPA and DOD have detected elevated levels of two unregulated, DOD-identified emerging contaminants found in firefighting foam -- PFOS and PFOA in drinking water at or near installations.
Perchlorate, an unregulated chemical used by DOD in rocket fuel, can also be found in drinking water.
Chapters 8-11 review DOD management of these drinking water contaminants.