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Laws & Regulations

Summary of the Safe Drinking Water Act

42 U.S.C. §300f et seq. (1974)

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was established to protect the quality of drinking water in the U.S. This law focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above ground or underground sources.

The Act authorizes EPA to establish minimum standards to protect tap water and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary (health-related) standards. The 1996 amendments to SDWA require that EPA consider a detailed risk and cost assessment, and best available peer-reviewed science, when developing these standards. State governments, which can be approved to implement these rules for EPA, also encourage attainment of secondary standards (nuisance-related). Under the Act, EPA also establishes minimum standards for state programs to protect underground sources of drinking water from endangerment by underground injection of fluids.

Compliance and Enforcement

History of this Act

More Information

The Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW), together with states, tribes, and many other partners, protects public health by ensuring safe drinking water and protecting ground water. OGWDW oversees implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.