The Office of Water (OW) recently released the EPA Drinking Water Action Plan that emphasizes the need for all levels of government, utilities, the private sector, community organizations, and other stakeholders to work together to increase the safety and reliability of drinking water.
“Ensuring that all Americans have access to safe drinking water is an absolute top priority for EPA,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We must work collectively to seize opportunities for progress, partnership, and innovation in order to continue to provide our citizens with the safest drinking water in the world.”
The plan includes six priority areas and identifies proposed actions for each area:
- Building capacity for water infrastructure financing and management in disadvantaged, small, and environmental justice communities;
- Advancing oversight of the Safe Drinking Water Act;
- Strengthening source water protection and resilience of drinking water supplies;
- Addressing unregulated contaminants;
- Improving transparency, public education, and risk communication on drinking water safety; and
- Reducing lead risks.
In tandem with the development of the plan, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) undertook a drinking water safety study. The PCAST’s recommendations complement and support EPA’s plan.
Today, Americans depend on 152,000 public drinking water systems and consume more than one billion glasses of tap water a day. EPA has established drinking water standards for more than 90 contaminants, and compliance data show that more than 90 percent of the nation’s water systems consistently meet those standards. While our country’s drinking water remains among the safest in the world, the drinking water sector faces a growing array of challenges. These challenges can be particularly acute in small and disadvantaged communities.