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Release Date: 04/20/99
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EPA today released a report assessing compliance with drinking water safety standards during l997. Based on information reported by states to EPA’s computer-based tracking system, EPA found that 92 percent of America’s community water systems, serving 88 percent of the population, reported no violations of health-based drinking water standards in 1997. Of the violations observed, 85 percent were violations of monitoring and reporting requirements, not health-based standards, and almost all monitoring and reporting violations occurred at the systems that served 3,300 or fewer people. Monitoring and reporting violations are a concern at small water systems generally, but particularly on Indian reservations, where 98 percent of public water systems are small.
The report also describes steps the Clinton Administration is taking to improve the safety of the nation’s drinking water. In August l996, President Clinton signed a new Safe Drinking Water Act with significant new amendments to provide for increased drinking water safety. Since then, the Clinton Administration has released $2.78 billion in the first-ever funding for public water systems to improve their capability to provide the safest possible drinking water. Significant new public right-to-know provisions will provide Americans with annual reports on the safety of their local drinking water, beginning this year. EPA also is providing the public with information about drinking water quality at the local, state, and national level on the Internet at:

The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments also provided regulators with stronger enforcement and penalty authorities. In fiscal year l997, states issued a total of 913 formal enforcement actions, including 632 administrative orders without penalty, 220 administrative orders with penalty, 60 civil referrals for judicial action and one criminal referral. During that same period, EPA issued 266 notices of violation, 392 federal administrative orders, 12 complaints for penalty and four civil referrals.

Reporters can call Robin Woods in EPA’s Press Office at 202-260-4377 for further information. Today’s report, entitled "Providing Safe Drinking Water in America: l997 National Public Water Systems Compliance Report and Update," is available on the Internet at the website listed above and at: Printed copies will be available in three to four weeks, and may be requested by calling EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1800-426-4791. EPA’s report includes a summary of individual reports prepared by each state and indicates where the full report for each state can be obtained.

John Kasper, Director
R-42 Office of Media Relations