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Release Date: 02/11/98
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To fulfill President Clinton's commitment to protect public health and provide Americans with the right to know about local pollution, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol M. Browner today proposed a rule that would, for the first time, provide the American public with regular reports on the safety of their local drinking water. The assessments would be mailed to most consumers at least annually by their drinking water supplier.

"In l996 President Clinton signed the new Safe Drinking Water Act to provide the American people with the right to know what is in their drinking water," said Browner. "As a public health measure to help ensure clean, safe water, EPA is proposing today that all drinking water systems regularly report to their customers on the safety of their local drinking water. Although the nation's drinking water supply is generally safe, the new information will provide consumers with a snapshot of the current state of their local drinking water supply. These reports will help Americans and their families, particularly those with special health needs, make informed decisions regarding their drinking water and their health."

The proposed rule would require that the drinking water reports tell consumers practical information, including: 1) the quality of the local drinking water; 2) whether or not the tap water meets EPA's safety standards; 3) likely sources of any contaminants; and, 4) what the health risks are in systems that violate the safety standards. Also included would be information on sources of local drinking water, such as rivers, lakes or underground sources, and violations and enforcement data.

The rule applies to all of the nation's 56,000 community water systems, providing information to more than 240 million people across the country. Large water suppliers will have to mail their reports, either with their bills or as a separate mailing. Smaller systems (those serving less than 10,000 people) may be able to post their report in a central location or print it in a local newspaper.
The first reports will arrive in mailboxes no later than October l999, after final reporting requirements are issued on Aug. 6, l998.

The report also will educate vulnerable populations on how to avoid cryptosporidium, a microbe that is potentially dangerous to people with severely depressed immune systems.

The Consumer Confidence Report is the centerpiece of the public information provisions of the newly amended Safe Drinking Water Act, signed by the President in August l996, which strengthened and expanded the nation's drinking water protections to give consumers more information on their drinking water and to provide unprecendented opportunities to get involved in protecting their drinking water. The new law was based on the Administration's l993 reform proposal and includes a first-ever loan fund for drinking water treatment infrastructure and protection for drinking water sources.

"The Clinton Administration believes that providing Americans with useful information on their air and water is the best way to solve local pollution problems," said Browner.

EPA developed this rule in consultation with water suppliers, local governments, environmental groups, risk communication experts and others during numerous public meetings in l996 and l997.

There will be a 45-day comment period on the proposal. The rule is expected to become final later this year and the first reports should reach consumers sometime next year.

Copies of the proposal can be obtained from EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791. Written comments can be sent to: CCR Comment Clerk, Water Docket MC4101, Docket #W-97-18, U.S. EPA, Washington, D.C. 20460. Additional information will be available on the Internet at EPA's drinking water web site:

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