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Water: Public Water System Supervision Grant

State and Territorial PWSS Program Grants Fact Sheet


What is the PWSS program?
The PWSS program was authorized by Congress through the SDWA to establish and enforce health protection standards for the drinking water produced by water systems that serve the public throughout the country. Since FY 1976, the Congress has appropriated funds under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to help states develop and implement a PWSS program.

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What activities are funded by PWSS grants?
These grants help eligible states, territories, and tribes develop and implement a PWSS program adequate to enforce the requirements of the SDWA and ensure that water systems comply with the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. Key activities carried out under a PWSS program include:

  • developing and maintaining state drinking water regulations;
  • developing and maintaining an inventory of public water systems throughout the state;
  • developing and maintaining a database to hold compliance information on public water systems;
  • conducting sanitary surveys of public water systems;
  • reviewing public water system plans and specifications;
  • providing technical assistance to managers and operators of public water systems;
  • carrying out a program to ensure that the public water systems regularly inform their consumers about the quality of the water that they are providing;
  • certifying laboratories that can perform the analysis of drinking water that will be used to determine compliance with the regulations; and
  • carrying out an enforcement program to ensure that the public water systems comply with all of the state's requirements.

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Who is eligible to receive PWSS grants?
Designated agencies in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, that have been delegated Primary Enforcement Responsibility for the PWSS program are eligible to receive grants. Currently, all states and territories have been delegated authority, with the exception of Wyoming and the District of Columbia (neither of which has sought delegation). An individual Indian tribe that has received authority for treatment as a state for the purposes of the PWSS program may also receive a grant. To date, the Navajo Nation is the only Indian tribe that has applied for and received program authority.

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How are the grants allotted?
Funds appropriated each year are allotted by formula based on the percentage of population (20%), geographical area (10%), the number of community and non-transient non-community water systems (56%), and the number of transient non-community water systems (14%). No state may be allotted less than one percent of the FY 89 appropriation, and no jurisdiction's allotment shall be less than 95 percent of its prior year allotment. The territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands may receive less than one percent of the FY89 appropriation. Up to seven percent of the national total may be set-aside for implementation of the program on Tribal lands.

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Why are allotments sometimes referred to as “Tentative” and other times as “Final”?
EPA calculates the allotments twice for each fiscal year. Tentative allotments are based on the amount of funding that is requested in the federal budget for the upcoming federal fiscal year. The budget is normally released in February
of each year and the Tentative allotments are calculated a month or two later. Once EPA receives an appropriation from Congress for the new fiscal year, we recalculate the allotments based on the funds that are actually available. These are the Final allotments. This step normally occurs within a few months after the start of the new federal fiscal year. When the amount of funds appropriated is the same as the budget request, the Tentative and Final allotments are identical.

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Is there a requirement for a state "match" or a "maintenance of effort"?
Yes. Under the SDWA, the PWSS grant can provide no more than 75% of the costs expended by a state to carry out its PWSS program.

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