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Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)

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The objective of the Safe Drinking Water Act is to protect public health by establishing safe limits (based on the quality of water at the tap) for contaminants that may have an adverse effect on human health, and to prevent contamination of surface and ground sources of drinking water.

Summary of Safe Drinking Water Act

More Information

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Related publications from the Ag Center
Drinking Water and Wells
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Text of law and related regulations
Safe Drinking Water Act
Drinking Water Regulations: 40 CFR Parts 141 - 149

More information from EPA 
Ground Water and Drinking Water
Policies and Guidance for Safe Drinking Water Act

More information from states
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) - Environmental Laws Affecting State Agriculture Exit EPA
EZregs Exit EPA - University of Illinois Extension Web site that identifies environmental regulations that pertain to specific agricultural and horticultural operations and practices in Illinois.

Safe Drinking Water Act compliance and enforcement
Water Enforcement Division
Protocol for Conducting Environmental Compliance Audits of Public Water Systems Under SDWA (PDF) (172 pp, 1MB)

Telephone assistance from EPA
Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 800-426-4791

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Overview of Safe Drinking Water Act

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) mandates that EPA establish regulations to protect human health from contaminants in drinking water. The law authorizes EPA to develop national drinking water standards and to create a joint federal-state/tribal system to ensure compliance with these standards. The SDWA also directs EPA to protect underground sources of drinking water through the control of underground injection of liquid wastes.

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Drinking Water Standards

EPA has developed primary and secondary drinking water standards under its SDWA authority. EPA and authorized states/tribes enforce the primary drinking water standards, which are contaminant-specific concentration limits that apply to certain public drinking water supplies. Primary drinking water standards consist of maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs), which are non-enforceable health-based goals, and maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), which are enforceable limits set as close to MCLGs as possible, considering cost and feasibility of attainment.

Related publications from the Ag Center
Drinking Water and Wells
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Related topic
Drinking Water and Wells

Related environmental requirements 
Safe Drinking Water Act
National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (40 CFR Part 141)
National Primary Drinking Water Regulations Implementation (40 CFR Part 142)
National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations (40 CFR Part 143)

More information from EPA
Public Drinking Water System Programs
Water on Tap: What You Need to Know

Telephone assistance from EPA
Safe Drinking Water Hotline 800-426-4791

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State Groundwater Protection

The 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act establish a new Section 1429 for state groundwater protection programs. EPA may make grants to states to develop programs to ensure coordinated and comprehensive protection of groundwater resources within the state. The Agency has authorized $15 million for state grants for each fiscal year from 1997 to 2003.

Since August 1997, EPA has been required to publish annual guidance establishing procedures for state grant applications. By August 1999, and every 3 years thereafter, EPA is to report to Congress on the quality of the nation's groundwaters and the effectiveness of state programs for groundwater protection.

Related topic
Drinking Water and Wells

Related environmental requirements
Safe Drinking Water Act

More information from EPA
Comprehensive State Groundwater Protection Program

Telephone assistance from EPA
Safe Drinking Water Hotline 800-426-4791

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Underground Injection Control

The Underground Injection Control (UIC) program (40 CFR Parts 144-148) is a permit program that protects underground sources of drinking water by regulating five classes of injection wells. UIC permits include design, operating, inspection, and monitoring requirements. Wells used to inject hazardous wastes must also comply with RCRA corrective action standards in order to be granted a RCRA permit, and must meet applicable RCRA land disposal restrictions standards. The UIC permit program is primarily state-enforced, since EPA has authorized all but a few states to administer the program.

Related topic
Drinking Water and Wells

Related environmental requirements
Safe Drinking Water Act
Underground Injection Control Program (40 CFR part 144)
State UIC Program Requirements (40 CFR part 145)
Underground Injection Control Program Criteria & Standards (40 CFR part 146)
State Underground Injection Control Programs (40 CFR part 147)
Hazardous Waste Injection Restrictions (40 CFR part 148)

More information from EPA
Underground Injection Control

Telephone assistance from EPA
Safe Drinking Water Hotline 800-426-4791

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Sole Source Aquifer Protection Program

The SDWA also provides for a federally implemented sole source aquifer program, which prohibits federal funds from being expended on projects that may contaminate the sole or principal source of drinking water for a given area.

Related environmental requirements 
Safe Drinking Water Act
Sole Source Aquifers (40 CFR Part 149)

More information from EPA
Sole Source Aquifer Protection Program

Telephone assistance from EPA
Safe Drinking Water Hotline 800-426-4791

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Wellhead Protection Program

A wellhead protection area is the surface and subsurface area surrounding a water well or well field that supplies a public water system, and through which contaminants are reasonably likely to move toward and reach the water well or well field. The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates a state/tribal-implemented wellhead protection program, designed to protect drinking water wells and drinking water recharge areas.

Related topic
Drinking Water and Wells

Related publications from the Ag Center
Drinking Water and Wells
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Related environmental requirements
Safe Drinking Water Act
40 CFR Part 141, Subpart G (scroll down for Subpart G)

More information from EPA 
Wellhead Protection Program

Telephone assistance from EPA
Safe Drinking Water Hotline 800-426-4791

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