A diverse group of drinking water providers and environmental and health organizations applauded a Dec. 19 announcement of a revised rule to safeguard U.S. drinking water.
A pre-publication copy of the final Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) was released Dec. 20 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and will be published in the Federal Register in the next few weeks. Significant improvements were made during the revision process, including new requirements that ensure assessment and corrective action when monitoring results indicate a potential risk of contamination exists.
Environmental groups, drinking water utilities, public health advocates and regulators expressed support for the revised rule, saying it promotes best practices for keeping water safe in distribution systems while improving communication about potential health threats. Last revised in 1989, the TCR provides a regulatory framework to decrease the risk of pathogens in water reaching consumers’ taps.
Among the organizations applauding the RTCR are the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), Clean Water Action, the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), the National Rural Water Association (NRWA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The revised rule builds on a decade of research, targeted analysis, and stakeholder involvement by the agency and the drinking water community. It reflects the work of the EPA’s Total Coliform Rule / Distribution System Advisory Committee, which included water utilities, consumer and environmental advocates and other stakeholders.
“The collaborative process leading to the Revised Total Coliform Rule was exemplary," said AWWA Deputy Executive Director Tom Curtis. “The revised TCR will be effective because it truly promotes best practices that assure delivery of high quality drinking water to customers’ homes.”
“The Revised TCR Rule, which reflects the recommendations of diverse stakeholders working together in an intensive 13-month process, is an innovative approach to identifying contamination risks and making sure that drinking water treatment and distribution systems are performing well,” said Clean Water Action National Campaigns Director Lynn Thorp.
“EPA gathered many diverse perspectives in its federal advisory committee process,” said AMWA Executive Director Diane VanDe Hei. “The result is a rule that makes good sense for water consumers and providers.”
“This new safe drinking water rule is a big win for public health,” said NRDC Program Attorney Mae Wu. “It will protect Americans from water contaminated by bacteria and will help water utilities address problems quickly so they can continue delivering clean water to their customers.”
“This revised rule demonstrates the effectiveness of a collaborative process that acquires input from all interested parties at the onset of a regulatory process to ensure an outcome that leads to improved delivery of safe drinking water to households and businesses,” said NAWC Executive Director Michael Deane.
“Small and rural communities welcome the new rule which will both enhance public health protection and reduce the regulatory burden on local communities,” said NRWA Analyst Mike Keegan. “The new rule recognizes the importance of local governments and local responsibility in protecting public health and ensuring the safety of the drinking water supply. We thank the White House, the U.S. EPA, our friends in the environmental community and the drinking water community for their efforts and assistance in finalizing this very helpful and progressive policy.”