Consumer Confidence Reports

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE REPORTS

BY: MALCOLM D. SAYES, PE, MANAGER
ENGINEERING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE UNIT
SAFE DRINKING WATER PROGRAM, OPH

As you may be aware by now, President Clinton signed the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 (SDWAAs of 1996) which, among other things, provides for annual Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs). The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has implemented that portion of the SDWAAs of 1996 relative to CCRs by promulgating a final CCR rule on August 19, 1998. The final CCR rule requires that all community water systems annually develop a CCR which contains data relative to the system which was collected during (or for some specific data elements prior to) each calendar year. The first report must cover the activities from January 1 - December 31, 1998.

This memorandum is to advise you that the Office of Public Health (OPH) intends to assist all community water systems which serve less than 100,000 persons in the development of their individual CCR. The OPH will use a computerized fill-in-the-blank template developed by the USEPA [or a similar template developed by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) or the National Rural Water Association (NRWA)]. The template will be completed by OPH utilizing the available data present in the OPH's computer database for your particular water system. It is this office's intention to make this copy of your particular CCR available to you in hard-copy (paper) fashion no later than August 1, 1999. The CCR for the 1998 calendar year must be distributed or otherwise made available to your consumers no later than October 19, 1999. Please also note that the second CCR (for the 1999 calendar year) must be distributed July 1, 2000 and subsequent reports for subsequent calendar years by July 1 annually thereafter.

The OPH will attempt to put together as much of the EPA required information as possible into the CCR which is to be sent to your system later this year; however, please note that you, as the owner/operator of the public water system, have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that all of the EPA-required information is contained in the report. To assist you in this endeavor, attached, please find a summary of the EPA-required informational elements which must be in the report. A copy of the federal final CCR rule itself is also enclosed for your use and information.

Each community water system must mail or otherwise directly deliver one copy of the report to each customer. Systems serving 100,000 or more persons are required to post its current CCR to a publicly-accessible site on the Internet. The USEPA allows the Governor or his designee to waive the mailing requirement for community water systems serving fewer than 10,000 persons. Within the near future, the OPH intends to seek Governor Foster's approval to waive the requirement for mailing for those community systems which serve fewer than 10,000 persons. Assuming that the Governor approves such a waiver, community water systems serving fewer than 10,000 persons would still be required to: (i) publish the reports in one or more local newspapers serving the area in which the system is located; (ii) inform the customers that the reports will not be mailed, either in the newspapers in which the reports are published or by other means approved by the State; and (iii) make the reports available to the public upon request. If the Governor approves, community water systems serving 500 or fewer persons also would not have to comply with (i) and (ii) of the preceding sentence if they provide notice at least once per year to their customers by mail, door-to-door delivery, or by posting in an appropriate location that the report is available upon request.

Systems are also required to make a "good faith effort" to reach consumers who do not get water bills such as renters or workers. "Good faith efforts" could include a mix of methods, such as, posting reports on the Internet; mailing to postal patrons in the metropolitan areas; advertising the availability of the report in the news media/local newspapers; posting in public places such as cafeterias or lunch rooms of public buildings; delivery of multiple copies to single-biller customers for distribution, such as apartment buildings or large private employers; and delivery to community organizations.

The system must mail a copy of the report to OPH no later than the date that the system is required to distribute the report to its customers, i.e., October 19, 1999 for the 1998 calendar year report and July 1 for subsequent calendar years reports. The address to which you are to mail the report to OPH will be provided to you at a later date. In addition, within 3 months of the date that the system is required to distribute the report, the system must submit a certification to OPH that the report has been distributed to customers and that the information is correct and consistent with the compliance monitoring data. A copy of the certification form will be sent to you for completion at the same time that OPH sends you the hard-copy of your CCR.

All community water systems must retain copies of its CCR for no less than 5 years.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Stacy Williams, R.S., of my staff at (225)765-5038.

SUMMARY OF THE EPA REQUIRED INFORMATIONAL ELEMENTS WHICH MUST BE IN THE CONSUMER CONFIDENCE REPORT

  1. The sources(s) of the water, and if a source water assessment has been completed for the system, how to obtain a copy of this information;
  2. Brief, plainly-worded definitions of "maximum contaminant level goal" (MCLG), "maximum contaminant level" (MCL), "variances" and "exemptions";
  3. Information on any regulated contaminant detected and the likely or typical source(s) of such contaminant;
  4. A brief statement in plain language regarding the health concerns for any regulated contaminant for which there has been a violation of the MCL during the year covered by the report;
  5. Information on any unregulated contaminant detected for which monitoring is required by EPA regulations;
  6. An informational statement about arsenic when arsenic has been detected above 25 ppb but below the current MCL of 50 ppb;
  7. An informational statement about the impacts of nitrate on children when the nitrate has been detected above 5 parts per million (ppm) but below the current MCL of 10 ppm;
  8. An informational statement about the special impact of lead on children when lead has been detected above the action level in more than 5%, but fewer than 10%, of homes sampled;
  9. For systems currently serving 10,000 or more persons, health effects language for total trihalomethanes (TTHM) when the annual average TTHM level is equal to or below the current MCL of 100 parts per billion (ppb) but above the newly promulgated MCL of 80 parts per billion (ppb) which is not yet technically effective until December 16, 2001;
  10. Other violations of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWRs), such as treatment technique violations, monitoring/reporting violations, recordkeeping violations, and violations of an administrative or judicial compliance order;
  11. If the system has performed any monitoring for Cryptosporidium or radon, the results of the monitoring and an explanation of the significance of the results;
  12. If the system is operating under a variance or exemption and the basis on which such variance or exemption was granted;
  13. A brief explanation regarding contaminants which may reasonably be expected to be found in drinking water including bottled water, such as:

"The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring, minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity.

Contaminants that may be present in source water include:

  1. Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, and wildlife.
  2. Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, which can be naturally-occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff, industrial or domestic waste-water discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming.
  3. Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and residential uses.
  4. Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff, and septic systems.
  5. Radioactive contaminants, which can be naturally-occurring or be the result of oil and gas production, and mining activities.

In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, EPA prescribes regulations which limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. FDA regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water which must "provide the same protection for public health."

(Note: In lieu of the above, a system may use their own comparable language to explain how contaminants may reasonably be expected to be found in drinking water including bottled water.)

  1. the following mandatory language: "Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791)."
  2. the following mandatory language prominently displayed; "Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guideline on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791)."
  3. The telephone number of the owner or operator of the system and how can the public participate in decisions that may affect the quality of the water; and,
  4. Such additional information as the system deems necessary for public education consistent with, and not detracting from, the purpose of the report.
 

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