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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Public Drinking Water Systems Programs
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Public Drinking Water System Programs
The public drinking water systems regulated by EPA, and delegated states and tribes, provide drinking water to 90 percent of Americans. These public drinking water systems, which may be publicly- or privately-owned, serve at least 25 people or 15 service connections for at least 60 days per year. Through the Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) program, EPA implements and enforces drinking water standards to protect public health. Below we have listed some of the activities that EPA, states, and tribes undertake to regulate public water supplies. EPA does not regulate drinking water wells that supply water to fewer than 25 people. To learn about drinking water from private wells, click here. Water tower photo: Allison Water Supply provides drinking water to about 1000 people in Allison, IA.

Water Infrastructure Security: Grants are available to improve the security of the water supply in large public water systems. For information on how to apply, go to the Water Infrastructure Security Page.

Information about Public Drinking Water Systems:  for information about a particular drinking water system in your state, go to the Local Drinking Water Page Drinking Water State Revolving Fund:  EPA awards grants to states to establish revolving loan funds to assist public water systems wtih infrastructure improvements.  The program also allows states to reserve a portion of their grant to fund activities needed for source water protection and enhanced water systems management. 

Drinking Water Academy: EPA offers classroom and Web-based training to improve implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Rule Implementation:   After working with states and water suppliers to develop new drinking water rules, EPA provides guidance documents to help them implement the rules.

Operator Certification: States must implement programs to certify operators of drinking water systems.  EPA has published guidance outlining minimum requirements. 

Small Systems and Capacity Development:  The program addresses issues affecting drinking water systems serving populations less than 3,300.  A major focus is on capacity development, which refers to the technical, financial and managerial capacity of a system to provide safe drinking water.  The program also provides information about treatment technology options for small systems. 

Laboratories and Monitoring: Water systems must monitor their drinking water to ensure that it is safe for their customers. Monitoring schedules differ according to the type of contaminant and the population that the public water system serves. EPA approves the analytical methods that laboratories use to analyze drinking water samples and also certifies the laboratories.

Water Conservation:  See our water efficiency page for information on guidelines for states on water conservation programs and guidance for water systems on how to prepare water conservation plans, as well as fact sheets for the public. 

Research:  The Office of Research & Development's Water Supply and Water Resources Division conducts research to help prepare drinking water regulations and to develop technologies and strategies for controlling waterborne contaminants.

Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) Program Issues 

Enforcement: EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) works on enforcement activities related to drinking water

Variances and Exemptions:  States or EPA may grant variances to allow public water systems to use less costly technology.  Exemptions can allow public water systems more time to comply with a new regulation. Read the rule, published in August 1998.

Information from other federal agencies:Exiting EPA Web Site 

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the Adobe PDF files on this page. See EPA's PDF page for more information about getting and using the free Acrobat Reader.


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