EPA announces final rule to improve drinking water quality awareness

On May 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule to make annual drinking water quality reports more understandable and accessible to the public. The agency said the reports are an important tool that drinking water systems use to inform residents about water quality and any contaminants that have been found in the water.

Starting in 2027, this final rule will ensure that these reports are easier to read and support access to translations in appropriate languages while enhancing information about lead in drinking water. EPA said it is also taking steps to streamline the delivery of reports by encouraging electronic methods.

“EPA is taking [this action] to help ensure that the American public has improved access to information about the drinking water in their communities by strengthening requirements for annual drinking water quality reports,” said acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water Bruno Pigott. “[This] announcement will ensure these reports are easier to understand, and easier to access in additional languages to provide all people with the information they want and need about their water.”

The final rule will support public education by more clearly communicating important information in water quality reports and improving access to the reports. Water systems are currently required to provide annual drinking water reports to customers each year, and with this rule systems serving over 10,000 customers will be required to distribute reports twice per year.

The final rule also introduces a new reporting requirement that will provide EPA with better information to make decisions on oversight, enforcement, regulatory revisions, and training and technical assistance. This final rule will require states to submit compliance monitoring data they already receive from public water systems to EPA annually. 

Learn more about EPA’s Revised Consumer Report Rule, including upcoming webinars and fact sheet that provides more detail on the new requirements.

Background

A Consumer Confidence Report, sometimes called a “Drinking Water Quality Report,” summarizes information about local drinking water. As part of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, Congress instructed EPA to revise the Consumer Confidence Report Rule. EPA said this final rule will support the goal of the Safe Drinking Water Act “right-to-know” provisions by improving the Consumer Confidence Reports so that people can make better decisions about their drinking water. The agency said this final rule will work to further that goal by making sure important information in annual reports are accurate and accessible.

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