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Water Quality In Your City

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THE GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING YOUR WATER QUALITY REPORT

Water  knowledge  is  a  right

Congress  codified  our  right  to  know  what  is  in  our  water  in  1996  with  amendments to  the  Safe  Drinking  Water  Act  of  1976, charging  the  EPA  with  setting  drinking  water  standards  for  all  public  water  systems.

Water  utilities  monitor  and  treat  drinking  water  to  abide  by  these  federal  standards  The  1996  amendments  added  a  requirement  for  utilities  to  notify  the  public  about  any  detected  regulated  contaminant  and  any  water  quality  violation.

The  centerpiece  of  these  right-­‐to-­‐know  provisions  is  the  annual  water  quality  report.  Although  these  reports  are  intended  to  help  consumers  make  informed  choices  about  their  drinking  water,  they  can  be  confusing  and  full  of  jargon.

This  guide  is  intended  to  help  you  understand  what  your  water quality  report  is  and  how  to  interpret  what  it  tells  you.  

Smart  people  concerned  about  health  are  catching  on  to  the  Bottled  water  industry’s  marketing  con  job,  and  about  the  toxic  chemicals  in  the  tap  water.  They  now  know  that  bottled  water  is  an  overpriced  rip-­‐off  that’s  no  more  pure  or  healthful  than  tap  water.  Furthermore,  its  production  and  transportation  gobbles  energy  and  spews  pollution  and  climate-­‐changing  gases  into  our  atmosphere.

You  probably  have  questions  about  the  quality  of  your  city  or  town’s  water  supply.  Although  most  municipal  water  beats  the  stuff  in  the  bottle,  learning  more  about  it  makes  us  smarter  consumers.

What  Is  a  Water  Quality  Report?
A  water  quality  report,  also  called  a  consumer  confidence  report,  lets  you  know what  contaminants,  if  any,  are  in  your  drinking  water  and  how  these  contaminants  may  affect  your  health.  It  lists  all  the  regulated  toxicants  that  were  detected  in  your  water  over  the  preceding  calendar  year.

Who  Gets  a  Water  Quality  Report?
A  water  quality  report  is  available  for  every  customer  of  a  community  water  system, which  is  one  that  provides  year-­‐round  service  to  more  than  15  households  or  more  than  25  people.

What  Does  a  Water  Quality  Report  Tell  You?
Every  water  quality  report  must  contain  certain  information:
•  The  source  of  the  drinking  water,  be  it  a  river,  lake,  groundwater  aquifer  or  some  other  body  of  water;
•  A  brief  summary  of  the  state’s  source  water  assessment  of  the  susceptibility  of  the source  water  to  contamination  and  how  to  get  a  copy  of  the  complete  assessment;
•  EPA  regulations  and  health  goals  for  drinking  water  contaminants;
•  A  list  of  all  detected  regulated  contaminants  and  their  levels;
•  Potential  health  effects  of  any  contaminant  detected  at  a  level  that  violates  EPA’s   health  standard;
•  An  educational  statement  for  people  with  weakened  immune  systems  about  cryptosporidium  and  other  microbial  contaminants;
•  Contact  information  for  the  water  system  and  EPA’s  Safe  Drinking  Water  Hotline

Why  Is  a  Water  Quality  Report  Important?
Your  water  system  must  tell  you  about  any  violation  of  EPA  water  quality  standards  at  the  time  it  occurs  and  again  in  the  annual  report.  You  should  not  drink  water  that  fails  to  meet  EPA  standards  because  it  may  be  unsafe.  Thankfully,  public utilities  have  worked  hard  to  improve  water  quality,  and  today,  more  than  90  percent  of  water  systems  meet  all  EPA  regulations. Another  important  part  of  the  report  is  the  list  of  all  detected  regulated  contaminants.  EPA  sets  the  maximum  level  of contaminants,  called  the  MCL,  that  it will  allow  in  drinking  water  based  on  the  filtering  and  treatment  capabilities  of  today’s  technology.  The  water  quality  report  also  tells  you  about  potentially  harmful  substances  found  in  your  water  at  levels  below  their  legal  limit,  which  often  is  or  approaches  the  agency’s  more  stringent,  optimum  human  health  goal  for  the  maximum  level  of  contaminants,  the  MCLG

More  information  is  available  online  at  www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/index.html.
For  general  queries  about  water  quality  reports  and  other  safe  drinking  water  issues,  you  can  contact  EPA’s  Safe
Drinking  Water  Hotline  toll-­‐free  at  1-­‐800-­‐426-­‐4791.

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GOVERNMENT WATER FACTS