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Policy Statement 361 - Implementation of Safe Drinking Water Regulations

 

Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on March 16, 2017
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on June 5, 2017
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 29, 2017

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE):

  • Recommends that Congress amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (Act) to require states to review and update as required their contaminant-monitoring programs at least once every three years to ensure that all potential contaminants are evaluated periodically commensurate with their risk to human health.
  • Recommends that regulations promulgated under the 1996 amendments to the Act balance the concern for drinking water quality with risk-based contaminant limitations that include adverse health effects, frequency of occurrence, and treatment technologies to avoid undue financial burdens on consumers.
  • Believes that adequately funded state and federal programs to develop and enforce the EPA regulations under the Act are necessary.
  • Encourages Congress, through the EPA, to support the state programs by providing federal funding, program planning assistance, and technical guidance with sufficient flexibility to accommodate state and local issues.
  • Encourages the professional education, research and development necessary to formulate new methods of water quality analysis, water treatment, and related technologies.

Issue

Treatment of drinking water for contaminants is complex and the issues are interrelated.  Examples of such issues include mandatory disinfection which can result in disinfection by products, and increased opportunity for corrosion. The regulations are less effective if when they are not coordinated in content and timing, and when water providers are not given clear guidance. Development and implementation of these regulations with appropriate flexibility to accommodate regional risk variations will promote new developments in water quality analysis, water treatment, and related technologies.

Rationale

EPA regulations implementing the Act must conform to certain basic principles to be effective, but recognize that characteristics and quality of drinking water sources vary greatly by region. If interrelated regulations are not coordinated through objective analysis considering tradeoffs and new developments, the most timely and cost effective solutions will not be possible. Available resources should be allocated to the greatest health risk. Consequently, flexibility is important and regulations must focus on realistic and implementable standards for particular contaminants. Adequately funded state programs are needed because the states are in the best position to develop and enforce the detailed regulations under the Act and to make specific on site decisions as necessary. The states are also in the best position to provide necessary technical assistance to smaller water systems and to take any appropriate enforcement actions. Congress, through EPA, needs to provide federal funding to ensure effective implementation of the Act by the states. 

ASCE Policy Statement 361
First Approved in 1990

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