EPA Releases Review of Federal Drinking Water Standards and Proposes New Strategy for Protecting Drinking Water
This month, the EPA completed its second review of National Primary Drinking Water Regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act ("SDWA") and published the findings of its review in the Federal Register. Such reviews are required every six years under Section 1412(b)(9) of the SDWA. The EPA reviewed existing regulations for 71 contaminants and determined that 67 regulations remain appropriate, while four regulations are in need of revision. Each regulation covers a single contaminant.
The four regulations found to be in need of revision were those governing acrylamide, epichlorohydrin, tetrachloroethylene, and trichloroethylene. According to the EPA, "tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene are used in industrial and/or textile processing and can be introduced into drinking water from contaminated ground or surface water sources," and "[a]crylamide and epicholorohydrin are impurities that can be introduced into drinking water during the water treatment process." The review states that reevaluations of the health risks posed by exposure to acrylamide, tetrachloroethylene, and trichloroethylene are under way.
The review also concludes that compliance with more stringent limits on the concentration of all four contaminants is feasible and will likely be required under the revised regulations.
The review was published in the Federal Register on March 29, 2010, one week after EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a new drinking water protection strategy. The new strategy is intended to focus on the following four principles that the EPA seeks to promote:
* Addressing contaminants as a group rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved more quickly and cost-effectively.
* Fostering development of new drinking water treatment technologies to address health risks posed by a broad array of contaminants.
* Using the authority of multiple statutes, including the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act ("FIFRA") and the Toxic Substances Control Act ("TSCA"), to help protect drinking water.
* Partnering with states to share more complete data from monitoring at public water systems.