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Environmental Law - Safe Drinking Water Act

sdwa primary set systems

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was designed to correct flaws in the Clean Water Act. The SDWA requires that the EPA set primary drinking water regulations for any pollutants that may have an adverse effect on human health. It focuses on groundwater contamination whereas the CWA focuses on surface water contamination. The primary objectives of the SDWA are: to protect the nation's sources of drinking water; and to protect public health to the maximum extent possible, using proper water treatment techniques. The EPA has set primary drinking water standards entitled "maximum contaminant levels" (MCL) for 27 pollutants, and secondary MCLs for nearly 82 additional contaminants that can be found in tap water. The National Wildlife Federation estimates that 100,000 violations of the SDWA occur every year nationally.

In August of 1996 the SDWA was updated to overhaul the act's standard-setting process and to establish a funding mechanism to help states improve their drinking systems. The major innovations to the SDWA include the greater responsibility of individual states as well as a revolving fund system which allows states more latitude in monitoring contaminants. States are permitted to have partnerships with public water systems, local governments and private companies to achieve their goal of water contaminant reduction.

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