Protecting Public Health and the Environment.
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA), public drinking water systems are required to inform their customers of any violations of the state's drinking water standards. The purpose of public notification is to inform customers of any potential adverse health effects related to their drinking water, and what steps they can take to minimize the impact. (References: 40 CFR 141.32 and 141.35; IDAPA 58.01.08.150.02 and 04).
Effective May 6, 2002, amendments to the SDWA, known as the 2000 rule, prescribed specific public notification requirements based on the potential of a violation to cause serious effects. Violations are categorized in the following three-tier system:
Tier 1 notice is required for all violations or situations with significant potential to cause serious effects due to short-term exposure. Owners or operators must notify all persons served by the system within 24 hours. Notice is to be made by radio and television or by posting or hand-delivery, or other method approved by the primary agency. Posting must continue as long as the violation persists.
In addition, systems must initiate consultation with the primary agency (in Idaho, the Department of Environmental Quality) as soon as practical but within 24 hours after learning of the violation or situation. Lastly, within 10 days, systems must provide to the primary agency a copy of the notice plus certification that all requirements have been met.
Violations or situations that require Tier 1 notice include:
Tier 2 notice is required for all other violations or situations with potential to cause serious effects. Owners or operators must notify all persons served by the system within 30 days. Community water systems must use mail or hand-delivery, and other reasonable methods, to notify customers, unless directed otherwise by the primary agency. Non-community water systems must use posting, hand-delivery, or mail, and other reasonable methods, unless primary agency directs otherwise. The notice must be repeated every three months until the violation or situation is resolved. In addition, systems must consult with the primary agency within 24 hours if they exceed the maximum allowable turbidity level.
Violations or situations that require Tier 2 notice include:
Tier 3 notice is required for all other violations or situations not included in Tiers 1 or 2. Owners or operators must notify all persons served by the system within one year. Community water systems must use mail or direct delivery, and other reasonable methods, to notify customers, unless directed otherwise by the primary agency. Non-community water systems must use posting, direct delivery, or mail, and other reasonable methods, unless primary agency directs otherwise. The notice must be repeated annually.
Violations or situations that require Tier 3 notice include:
Notices must contain the following information:
In all cases, systems that serve a large proportion of non-English speaking customers must provide information on the importance of the notice in the appropriate language.
After you provide notice to your consumers, you must, within 10 days, send your primacy agency a copy of each type of notice you distribute (e.g., newspaper article, press release to TV/radio, mail notices) and a certification that you have met all the public notification requirements. You must send certifications for both initial and any repeat notices. When you certify, you are also stating that you will meet future requirements for notifying new billing units of the violation or situation.
EPA's PNiWriter allows drinking water owners and operators to enter data into a web-based public notification template to generate public notices that meet federal and state requirements. The program takes users through the 10 required elements of a public notice and allows them to insert and edit EPA's recommended text.
Contact your nearest DEQ Regional Office or the Public Health District assigned to your water system.