Public Water System Supervision
Related Mid-Atlantic Information
The Safe Drinking Water Act uses the Public Water System Supervision program to ensure that our drinking water meets the national Primary Drinking Water Standards. In the mid-Atlantic region, EPA works in partnership with the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia on supervising public water systems. EPA directly implements the program for the District of Columbia. Direct implementation by EPA also occurs for all states after new regulations are developed until states receive enforcement responsibility.
A public water system may be:
- publicly or privately-owned,
- serving at least 25 people for at least 60 days per year, or
- having at least 15 service connections.
These systems are required to:
- monitor their drinking water for contaminants to ensure that it is safe for their customers,
- provide an annual drinking water quality report to their customers, and
- notify customers whenever there is a violation of a drinking water standard.
Significant non-compliance occurs whenever a system fails to meet these requirements. Direct action by EPA is coordinated with the states whenever a system falls into significant non-compliance or whenever an emergency public health situation exists that requires immediate federal action. When EPA receives information that:
- a contaminant is present or likely to enter a public water system or underground source of drinking water and
- the contaminant may present imminent and substantial endangerment to human health, and
- the appropriate state and local authorities have not acted to protect public health, then…
… EPA can use its authority under Section 1431 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (PDF) (19 pp, 623K, About PDF). EPA can issue an Emergency Order or initiate civil action to protect public health. Using this authority, EPA can order responsible parties to provide an alternate source of drinking water or install water treatment to both private well-owners and public water system users. Using this authority, EPA can also force those responsible to better define the extent of the contamination (if necessary) and/or remediate the underground source of drinking water to drinking water standards.