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Tribal Portal turtle logoThe Safe Drinking Water Act

Laws and Regulations

Quick Links for SDWA

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was originally passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating the nation's public drinking water supply. The law was amended in 1986 and 1996 and requires many actions to protect drinking water and its sources: rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells. (SDWA does not regulate private wells which serve fewer than 25 individuals.)

SDWA authorizes EPA to set national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water.

Drinking Water Programs
EPA has developed primary and secondary drinking water standards under its SDWA authority. EPA and authorized tribes enforce the primary drinking water regulations, which are containment-specific concentration limits that apply to certain public drinking water supplies or treatment techniques that must be followed.

Public 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.

Underground Injection Control
The SDWA 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. The UIC permit program is primarily enforced by EPA in Indian country because no tribe is authorized to administer the program.


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