Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Sanitary Surveys

A sanitary survey is on-site review of a public water system’s water source, facilities, equipment, operation, and maintenance. The purpose of a sanitary survey is to evaluate and document the capabilities of a water system's sources, treatment, storage, distribution system, operation and maintenance, and overall management and financial capacity to continually provide safe drinking water and to identify any deficiencies that might adversely impact a public water system's ability to provide a safe, reliable water supply. The survey also seeks to identify systems that need technical or capacity development.

The survey evaluates the following areas:

  1. Source
  2. Treatment
  3. Finished water storage
  4. Distribution system
  5. Pumps/pump facility and controls
  6. Monitoring, reporting, and data verification
  7. Water system management and operations
  8. System compliance
  9. Security
  10. Financial

DEQ and Idaho's public health districts conduct sanitary surveys of all public water systems. DEQ conducts surveys of large public water systems and contracts with the health districts to survey the smaller systems.

The Idaho Rules for Public Drinking Water Systems require sanitary surveys of water systems to be taken every 3 to 5 years, depending on the type of system.

  • Community Water Systems: Every 3 years (every 5 years if outstanding performance)
  • Nontransient, Noncommunity Water Systems: Every 5 years
  • Transient, Noncommunity Water Systems: Every 5 years

Components of a Routine Sanitary Survey

Systems are notified when a sanitary survey is required. The surveyor contacts the system to make arrangements for conducting the survey. Unannounced or limited notice inspections may be conducted. A survey can take several hours to days to complete, depending on the complexity of the water system.

Discussion and Review of Records

When the surveyor arrives to conduct the routine sanitary survey, the first step is to go over the water system records. This includes discussion and review of the following:

  • Water facilities inventory and records
  • Distribution system plans and maps
  • Routine operation and maintenance records
  • Monitoring history and future monitoring schedule
  • Source and finished water quality monitoring plan, history, and waiver status
  • Operator certification credentials
  • Additional components

Field Inspection of Water System

After the water system records have been discussed and reviewed, the surveyor will then take a tour of the water system.  The tour will include an inspection of the following:

  1. Drinking water source
  2. Treatment equipment
  3. Pumps, pumping facilities, and controls
  4. Finished water storage
  5. Distribution system

Completion of the Sanitary Survey Form and Follow-Up

Upon concluding the sanitary survey, the inspector completes a preliminary inspection findings form (PIFF) that identifies deficiencies and or potential violations that are pending further review. The PIFF does not constitute a final determination of compliance. A final report will be completed by the inspector and a copy will be provided to the owner/operator within 30 days after DEQ identifies the significant deficiency. Systems are then required to take corrective action within the agreed upon correction time frame.

Preparing for a Sanitary Survey Inspection

Anything that can be done to help streamline the process will make the inspection more efficient. Review the previous sanitary survey report to help prepare for the next inspection. Review past deficiencies and ensure they have been properly addressed. If you are interested, download the current inspection form so that you know all the areas that will be reviewed. The complete inspection form that the inspectors use can be accessed at the right or through the Sanitary Survey Form button on the PWS Switchboard.

Other steps to prepare for a sanitary survey inspection include the following:

  • Have all records ready, such as monthly operational report, equipment calibration dates, laboratory test dates, daily logs, system drawings, flushing and valve exercises, and backflow prevention measures.
  • Have operator certification credentials readily available or displayed.
  • Ensure access is readily available to all areas, including sources, storage facilities, pump stations, and treatment plants.
  • Have emergency response plan readily available.

Free On-site Training for Certified Operators

Drinking water operators of public water systems classified as Very Small Water Systems (VSWS) or Distribution 1 (DST1) are now eligible for continuing education units (CEUs) for completion of limited homework activities, active participation in an enhanced sanitary survey, and follow-up corrective action planning associated with an enhanced sanitary survey. Details can be found at the PWS Switchboard under the Sanitary Survey CEU’s button. 


Staff Contacts

Drinking Water Compliance Supervisor
Brandon Lowder
DEQ Boise Regional Office
1445 N. Orchard St.
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0568

Drinking Water Compliance Supervisor
Anna Moody
DEQ Coeur d'Alene Regional Office
2110 Ironwood Parkway
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
(208) 666-4612

Water Quality Engineering Manager
Gregory Eager
DEQ Idaho Falls Regional Office
900 N. Skyline Drive, Suite B
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
(208) 528-2650

Water Quality Engineering Manager
Michael Camin
DEQ Lewiston Regional Office
1118 "F" St.
Lewiston, ID 83501
(208) 799-4370

Drinking Water/Wastewater Manager

Drinking Water Compliance Officer
Aaron Trevino
DEQ Twin Falls Regional Office
650 Addison Avenue West, Suite 110
Twin Falls, ID 83301
(208) 736-2190

Senior Hydrogeologist
David Goings
DEQ Pocatello Regional Office
444 Hospital Way #300
Pocatello, ID 83201
(208) 236-6160

DEQ Resources

State of Idaho Public Water System Enhanced Sanitary Survey Form (June 2009)
This is the form used by used by drinking water inspectors to conduct sanitary surveys in Idaho.  System owners and operators may use this form as a checklist to prepare for a sanitary survey.