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Water: Drinking Water Data and Databases

The Freedom of Information Act and the Safe Drinking Water Information System

Much drinking water information is already easily available through EPA's web sites. The main web site for EPA's drinking water program is water.epa.gov/drink. Specific information about every water system in the United States, including whether the system has violated any national drinking water standards, is available at water.epa.gov/drink/local/index.cfm. Information about public water systems in the United States is available at water.epa.gov/infrastructure/drinkingwater/pws/index.cfm and at water.epa.gov/scitech/datait/databases/drink/sdwisfed/howtoaccessdata.cfm. You may also contact individual water systems for more information.

EPA's drinking water information that is not on the Internet is available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Any individual (including non-U.S. citizens), corporation or association, public interest group, and local, state or foreign government, can request information under FOIA. It is EPA's policy to make the fullest possible disclosure of information without unjustifiable expense or unnecessary delay to any requester.

The primary source of additional drinking water information obtained through FOIA is the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS/FED). SDWIS/FED contains information on every public water system in the United States. There is a fact sheet available at http://water.epa.gov/scitech/datait/databases/drink/sdwisfed/index.cfm describing SDWIS/FED. A more detailed fact sheet available at http://water.epa.gov/scitech/datait/databases/drink/index.cfm provides information on the type of specific data contained in SDWIS/FED. To help decide what information to request, please read these fact sheets.

To file a FOIA request, contact EPA's main FOIA office (for national requests) or one of ten regional FOIA offices (for requests specific to a particular state or region). Addresses and phone numbers for these offices are available at http://www.epa.gov/foia/.


FOIA requests must be submitted in writing to the Freedom of Information Officer. EPA is allowed to charge fees to requesters in order to recover the direct costs of search, duplication, and review of requested records. However, if the total cost of the requested information is less than $25, EPA waives the fee. If the costs exceed $25, EPA will inform you of the actual amount due, and give you the option of altering or canceling your request. Different fees are charged to commercial users, representatives of the news media, educational or noncommercial scientific institutions, and individuals. In some cases, fee waivers or reduction of fees are granted in the public interest, but must be requested and justified by supporting documentation. Contact the FOIA office for more information.

For More Information on FOIA

EPA has a web site with general information on FOIA, including a description of fee schedules, how to place a FOIA request, and the FOIA statute. Please visit this site for more information at www.epa.gov/foia/.

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