The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and the Clean Water Acts (CWA) address microbial contamination of the nation's waters. The CWA enables protection of surface water for drinking water, recreational, and aquatic food source uses. The SDWA enables regulation of contamination of finished drinking water and protection of source waters.
Programs under the two Acts have historically followed separate paths using differing indicators of contamination and differing approaches. Concerns about future increases in microbial contamination and potential for emergence of new threats create a need to consider a strategy for the future that unites the influence of the two programs. Objectives of the strategy are to address all important sources of contamination, anticipate emerging problems, and use program and research activities efficiently to protect public health.
You can access a variety of sound scientific assessments that are used to protect the public from exposure to harmful levels of pathogens in ground and surface waters, food sources, and finished drinking water.
You may also access information on our Microbiology website.
- Microbial Risk Assessment Thesaurus
- Water Quality Standards and Implementation
- Regulatory support documents
- Drinking water health documents
Microbial Risk Assessment Thesaurus
Federal and international agencies, private sector organizations, and academics use terms and definitions in microbial risk assessment differently. This Thesaurus is a compendium of risk assessment terms found in frameworks, methodologies, and assessments. It provides insight into how various entities use specific microbial risk assessment terms in their activities and helps those responsible for such assessments both conduct and communicate about them more effectively.
Water Quality Standards and Implementation
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- Critical Research Needs for the Development of New or Revised Recreational Water Quality Criteria (June 2007)
- Final Water Quality Standards Bacteria Rule for Coastal and Great Lakes Recreation Waters (November 8, 2004)
- We developed these issue-specific technical fact sheets to help states implement the 2004 federal regulations and adopt state water quality standards for bacteria for coastal recreation waters (marine coastal waters and the Great Lakes). (August 30, 2006)
- Acceptable risk levels in Great Lakes waters, providing information on the flexibility states have regarding determining appropriate risk | Print version (PDF) (3 pp, 32K; August 2006)
- Using a single sample maximum bacteria count in state water quality standards for coastal recreation waters, clarifying clarifies EPA's expectation for how this value would be used. | Print version (PDF) (7 pp, 44K; August 2006)
Drinking Water Regulatory Support Documents
Criteria documents and guidance for drinking water contaminants provide information so preliminary decisions can be made as to whether the contaminant is a significant health threat via drinking water exposure and whether sufficient data exists to perform quantitative risk assessments.
Criteria documents and guidance for surface waters provide information to help states adopt water quality standards that protect the health of people who recreate in water.
Drinking Water Health Documents
Health Advisories serve as informal technical guidance to assist federal, state, and local officials responsible for protecting public health when emergency spills or contamination situations occur. They are not to be construed as legally enforceable federal standards. The Health Advisories are subject to change as new information becomes available.
2007 Experts Scientific Workshop
- Report of the Experts Scientific Workshop on Critical Research Needs for the Development of New or Revised Recreational Water Quality Criteria (EPA 823-R-07-006; June 2007)