What U.S. EPA and your State Require
The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments instituted new ‘right-to-know’ provisions that require water systems to communicate with the public about the quality of their water. Systems must distribute annual Consumer Confidence Reports (also known as water quality reports) as well as issue a public notification in circumstances where monitoring indicates a problem. The Quick Reference Guides below provide an overview of the specific requirements for each rule.
U.S. EPA Resources
To find your state program’s website for additional regulatory requirements, visit this index from the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators
Tools for Complying with the ‘Right-to-Know’ Rules
Compliance with this rules doesn’t have to be tricky, with all of the helpful materials available. The iWriter tools from US EPA do a bulk of the legwork for you and we’ve compiled a set of the most useful templates and guidance documents that would apply in most situations. Of course, it’s always best to check and see if your state has more specific requirements.
Consumer Confidence Report Rule
Public Notification Rule
WaterOperator.org indexes many state-specific guidance documents, forms and templates in our searchable document database.
Communication in Emergency Situations
When a hurricane or flood disables the drinking water supply or contamination otherwise occurs unexpectedly, it’s important to be ready with emergency information. Customers will want to know what sources are safe to drink and if possible, how they can disinfect their own water on a temporary basis.
Best Practices in Voluntary Communication
Developing and maintaining good relationships with customers involves more that meeting minimal regulatory requirements. It’s an ongoing process involving education about the value of public water and transparency about the needs and challenges of the water system. Voluntary communication practices can help garner public support for infrastructure improvements and rate changes. Proactive communication also helps alleviate concerns when water issues are raised in them media.
Using Social Media for Communication
The Internet is changing how public utilities and communities reach their constituents proactively and in response to situations. Social media tools provide an opportunity for listening and directly reaching customers as well as networking with partners.