Analyze Trends: EPA/State Drinking Water Dashboard
Analyze Trends: EPA/State Drinking Water Dashboard
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) ensures the quality of Americans' drinking water by regulating public water systems (PWS). Under SDWA, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees the states, federally-recognized tribes, and territories that implement the drinking water program. EPA and the other implementing authorities have authority to initiate enforcement responses against individual PWS that violate drinking water standards.
The SDWA Dashboard provides an overview of the SDWA regulatory activities of EPA and the implementing states, tribes, and territories. The dashboard provides an easy-to-use summary of key activities to answer questions like: which PWS are regulated, how many PWS have been inspected, how many systems have had alleged violations identified and enforcement action taken, and how many systems have returned to compliance. Users should not use the SDWA Dashboard to learn the up-to-the-minute compliance status of particular violations. For that information, contact the implementing authority (EPA, state, tribe, or territory) that regulates your specific PWS, or contact your local PWS directly.
See important information about the data. Use the "View More" menus at the top of each section to see additional charts. Access and download detailed data by clicking on bars of each chart.
SDWA requires states to report drinking water information periodically to EPA; this information is maintained in the federal database, SDWIS/Fed. SDWIS stands for the Safe Drinking Water Information System and contains information submitted by public water systems to primacy agencies, and by primacy agencies to EPA, to meet the reporting requirements established by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and related regulations and guidance.
Data Completeness: EPA is aware of inaccuracies and underreporting of some violation data to SDWIS. Due to the known incompleteness of the data reported by states and regions, we refer to systems as having reported violations or no reported violations.
Frequency of Data Updates: Reported violations may be between 3 and 6 months old by the time they appear in the dashboard, because they are reported to EPA in the fiscal year quarter following the quarter in which they occur. For example, data about enforcement actions taken by September 30 in a given year will become final in SDWIS on December 31, and become available in the dashboard in January or later.
Sample Values: Sample contaminant values that trigger Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) or Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level (MRDL) violations are not always available in EPA's database of record (SDWIS/Fed). States collect detailed sampling data from public water systems, and are required to submit a portion of their data to EPA. All violations are required to be reported to EPA, but only a subset of the measured values and units are required to be reported to EPA. To find out more about the available sample data, contact your state drinking water program or local water system.
A public water system (PWS) is a system for the provision to the public of water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances, if such system has at least 15 service connections or regularly serves at least 25 individuals at least 60 days out of the year.
Public water systems can be categorized by type:
Community Water System - A PWS that serves at least 15 service connections used by year-round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents (e.g., homes, apartments and condominiums that are occupied year-round as primary residences).
Non-transient Non-community Water System - A non-community PWS that regularly serves at least 25 of the same persons over six months per year. A typical example of a non-transient non-community water system is a school or an office building that has its own water source, such as a drinking water well.
Transient Non-community Water System - A non-community PWS that does not regularly serve at least 25 of the same persons over six months per year. A typical example is a campground or a highway rest stop that has its own water source, such as a drinking water well.
Public water systems can also be categorized by size, based on the number of people served by the system:
Violations required to be reported under SDWA are grouped into the following categories:
Health-Based - These violations fall into three categories: 1) exceedances of the maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), which specify the highest allowable contaminant concentrations in drinking water, 2) exceedances of the maximum residual disinfectant levels (MRDLs), which specify the highest concentrations of disinfectants allowed in drinking water, and 3) treatment technique requirements, which specify certain processes intended to reduce the level of a contaminant. Acute health-based violations are those that may cause illness after a short-term exposure.
Monitoring and Reporting - Failure to conduct regular monitoring of drinking water quality, or to submit monitoring results in a timely fashion to the state primacy agency or EPA, as required by SDWA.
Other Violations - Violations of variances and exemptions, public notice and Consumer Confidence Rule requirements, and others not referenced above.
Eligible states, territories, and tribes develop and implement a Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) program adequate to enforce the requirements of the SDWA and ensure that water systems comply with the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. EPA works with these primacy agencies to ensure that they carry out key activities essential to SDWA Public Water Systems Supervision program.
Currently, all states and territories except Wyoming and the District of Columbia have primacy for the PWSS program. The Navajo Nation is the only Indian tribe to have sought and received primacy for the PWSS program. EPA has primacy in Wyoming and the District of Columbia, and in Indian country, excluding the Navajo Nation, and retains enforcement authority in primacy states.
Key activities carried out by primacy agencies include:
developing and maintaining state drinking water regulations that are at least as protective as EPA’s,
developing and maintaining an inventory of public water systems throughout the state,
developing and maintaining a database to hold compliance information on public water systems,
conducting sanitary surveys of public water systems,
reviewing public water system plans and specifications,
providing technical assistance to managers and operators of public water systems,
carrying out a program to ensure that the public water systems regularly inform their consumers about the quality of the water that they are providing,
certifying laboratories that can perform the analysis of drinking water that will be used to determine compliance with the regulations, and
carrying out an enforcement program to ensure that the public water systems comply with all of the state's requirements.
Each of these activities is necessary to implement the PWSS program and enforce the drinking water standards. While the primacy agencies provide EPA with information on drinking water systems in the national database and in reports, EPA and the primacy agencies also hold regular discussions on the compliance status of systems.
Generally, a primacy agency's first responses to violations are informal actions such as reminder letters, warning letters, notices of violation, field visits, and telephone calls.
If a violation continues or recurs, the primacy agency must initiate a formal enforcement response that requires the violating public water system to return to compliance on an enforceable schedule. Formal enforcement responses include citations, administrative orders with or without penalties, civil referrals to state attorneys general or to the U.S. Department of Justice, filing criminal charges, and other sanctions.
If there is risk to public health, EPA and the primacy agency can issue emergency orders that require the public water system to take immediate action to protect public health and return the system to compliance.
EPA assigns either one, five, or ten points to each uncorrected violation as a reflection of the violation's severity. All violation points are summed and a score assigned to each PWS. Systems called "serious violators" have an aggregate score of at least eleven points. EPA’s Enforcement Response Policy directs primacy agencies to ensure that serious violators return all uncorrected violations to full compliance within six months of becoming a serious violator, or be placed under formal enforcement to compel the serious violator to take action to return to compliance.
EPA is aware that the completeness and accuracy of state data are variable, and without investigation and program knowledge, data can be misleading or misinterpreted. Often, there is important context around data that must be taken into account to provide an accurate picture. For example, not all activities and violations may be required to be reported to EPA, and current year data may still be in the process of being reported.
Activities and Violations
Data shown in the State Dashboards are based on data reported to EPA and may not reflect all compliance monitoring/inspections, enforcement or the full extent of noncompliance within a state. State environmental agencies may have more information on activities and noncompliance within their state on their agency websites.
Enforcement actions considered "enforcement sensitive" (in development) are counted on the charts; however, they are not listed in the drilldowns.
"State" in chart legends refers to a state, territory, EPA region that directly implements the drinking water program for Indian country, or tribe that EPA has approved for treatment as a state (to date, the Navajo Nation), depending on your menu selection.
The most recent federal fiscal year may not show a complete dataset because it has not yet been verified or the year is not completed.
State Dashboard "Activities and Violations" Caveat:
Data shown in the State Dashboards are based on data reported to EPA and may not reflect all compliance monitoring/inspections, enforcement or the full extent of noncompliance within a state. State environmental agencies may have more information on activities and noncompliance within their state on their agency websites. Links to state agency websites are provided below each State Dashboard.
State Dashboard "Authorization" Caveat:
Some states/territories do not have authorization/delegation to enforce any or all regulations implemented under the CAA, CWA and RCRA. In these instances, when State is selected as the implementing Agency, it may appear that no activity was conducted. Activity in these states/territories may be displayed when EPA is selected as the implementing Agency. Where this occurs is:
Air: American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands
Hazardous Waste: Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Iowa, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
Water: Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Puerto Rico