Water: Drinking Water Strategy
Drinking Water Strategy
In March 2010, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced the Agency's new Drinking Water Strategy (DWS) which is aimed at finding ways to strengthen public health protection from contaminants in drinking water. The new vision is intended to streamline decision-making and expand protection under existing laws and promote cost-effective new technologies to meet the needs of rural, urban, and other water-stressed communities. Since March 2010, we have made a great deal of progress in addressing each of the four goals identified under the Drinking Water Strategy. Some of the key accomplishments for each of the four goals are noted in the table below:
|Drinking Water Strategy Goal||Accomplishment(s)*|
|Address contaminants as groups rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved cost-effectively.||In February 2011, identified carcinogenic volatile organic compounds as the first group that the Agency plans to address.|
|Foster development of new drinking water technologies to address health risks posed by a broad array of contaminants.||In January 2011, promoted the formation of a Regional Water Technology Innovation Cluster to bring together public and private partners to focus on finding new ways to simultaneously treat multiple contaminants in drinking water.|
|Use the authority of multiple statutes to help protect drinking water.||In April 2012, EPA released pesticide health benchmarks that can be used as tools in assessing the occurrence of contaminants in drinking water (when regulatory values or health advisories are not available).|
|Partner with states to develop shared access to all public water systems (PWS) monitoring data.||In 2010, developed a Memorandum of Understanding between EPA and our State partners to facilitate sharing of drinking water monitoring data.|
*More detailed information about the progress for each goal can be referenced in the “ Additional Information about the Four Drinking Water Strategy Goals ”
As part of the overall Drinking Water Strategy national outreach effort, we held four public listening sessions, a web forum, and met with the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC). In addition to these efforts, we also held a web dialogue and a stakeholder meeting that were specifically geared towards gathering input on the first DWS goal. We appreciate all of our stakeholders who have contributed to this effort by sharing your thoughts and ideas. As the Agency moves forward in implementing the Drinking Water Strategy, we will continue to review and consider the input we have received from the public and our stakeholders.
EPA believes it is critical to enhance drinking water protection to address the growing number of possible contaminants. EPA will continue to pursue the goals outlined in the Drinking Water Strategy to provide more robust public health protection in an open and transparent manner, identify cost and energy efficient treatment technologies, and to collaborate more broadly with states, the drinking water industry, public health professionals, technology developers, and manufacturers and the public to address this challenge.
Additional Information about the Four Drinking Water Strategy Goals
Goal 1. Address contaminants as groups rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved cost-effectively.
The Agency announced in February 2011 that it plans to develop one national primary drinking water regulation (NPDWR) covering up to 16 carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (cVOCs). Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), which the Agency determined were candidates for regulatory revision under the second six year review of the existing NPDWRs, will be included in the cVOC drinking water standard. EPA will propose a regulation to address cVOCs as a group rather than individually in order to provide public health protections more quickly and also allow utilities to more effectively and efficiently plan for improvements. In the near-term, EPA also will evaluate how best to address nitrosamine disinfection byproducts since data from the second Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule indicate that these compounds are being found in public water systems. In the long-term, the various offices within EPA we will continue to work together to evaluate and fill the data gaps for other groups of interest for drinking water.
- Basic Questions and Answers for the Drinking Water Strategy Contaminant Groups Effort (PDF) (2 pp, 87K, About PDF)
- 2-2-2011 Press Release: EPA To Develop Regulation for Perchlorate and Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water
Goal 2. Foster development of new drinking water technologies to address health risks posed by a broad array of contaminants.EPA, in partnership with the US Small Business Administration (SBA), promoted the formation of a regional Water Technology Innovation Cluster in the Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, Northern Kentucky, and Southeast Indiana region that involves businesses, universities, and governments working together to promote economic growth and technology innovation. Emphasis has been placed on drinking water needs from early stages of cluster development; however, the scope also includes wastewater, storm water, and water reuse technologies because they increasingly impact each other. After a series of stakeholder meetings and the formation of a Steering Committee for the cluster, EPA Administrator Jackson visited Cincinnati on January 18, 2011, where she and the SBA Administrator announced the establishment of this regional cluster. As stated during the announcement, EPA is investing significant resources to conduct key studies of the environmental technology market place for drinking water. The cluster will develop, test, and market innovative processes and technologies including those that:
- Are sustainable, and water and energy efficient
- Will be cost effective for the utilities and consumers
- Address a broad array of contaminants
- Improve public health protection
Goal 3. Use the authority of multiple statutes to help protect drinking water.
EPA offices shared collected information and analyses conducted under the drinking water, pesticide, and toxics laws; identified authorities that will enable EPA to collect additional information on pesticides and toxic chemicals to inform analyses of potential health risks. OW and OCSPP jointly developed and released a table of non-cancer human health benchmarks for ~350 pesticides in April 2012. The table of Human Health Benchmarks for Pesticides (HHBPs) provides a tool for states, the public and other stakeholders to use for their internal decision-making processes (e.g., assist in interpreting drinking water monitoring data) when drinking water regulatory values or health advisories are not available. The HHBPs are provided for informational purposes only and can be found at:
In November 2010, OCSPP and OW worked together to identify a list of 134 chemicals being considered for screening for their potential to disrupt the endocrine system. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interact with and possibly disrupt the hormones produced or secreted by the human or animal endocrine system, which regulates growth, metabolism, and reproduction. The list includes chemicals that have been identified as priorities under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and also pesticide active ingredients that are being evaluated under EPA’s registration review program. The data generated from the screens will provide robust and systematic scientific information to help EPA identify whether additional testing is necessary, or whether other steps are necessary to address potential endocrine disrupting chemicals.
- More information about the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) can be found at:
Goal 4. Partner with states to develop shared access to all public water systems (PWS) monitoring data.
In 2010, EPA, the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA), and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) established a Data Sharing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the goals of: (a) promoting advanced information technology to facilitate data sharing between states and EPA; (b) strengthening the analysis of potential drinking water public health concerns; (c) sharing powerful data analysis tools to target program oversight, compliance assistance, and enforcement; and, (d) enabling consumers to obtain timely information about the quality of drinking water and the performance of public water systems in meeting drinking water standards. In December 2010, to ensure that the data sharing goals of the MOU are achieved, a state-EPA work group was formed to focus on such issues as data requirements, characteristics of successful data exchange, uses of compliance monitoring data, and ways to provide easily accessible drinking water quality information to the public. In 2011, in addition to continuing the work of the state-EPA workgroup, the Agency will begin to redesign the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) in which the compliance monitoring data collected under the Drinking Water Strategy will be stored and made accessible to the public.
- Drinking Water Strategy Fact Sheet (PDF)(2 pp, 26 K, About PDF)
EPA 815-F-10-001 March 2010
- In a speech to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the Agency is developing a broad new set of strategies to enhance public health protection from contaminants in drinking water.