skip navigation
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

NH Drinking Water Program Annual Compliance Report
The Drinking Water Program: An Overview

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) Program under the authority of the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Under the SDWA and the 1986 Amendments, EPA sets national limits on contaminant levels in drinking water to ensure that the water is safe for human consumption. These limits are known as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and Maximum Residual Disinfectant Levels (MRDLs). For some regulations, EPA establishes treatment techniques in lieu of an MCL to control unacceptable levels of contaminants in water. The agency also regulates how often public water systems (PWSs) monitor their water for contaminants and report the monitoring results to the states or EPA. Generally, the larger the population served by a water system, the more frequent the monitoring and reporting (M/R) requirements. In addition, EPA requires PWSs to monitor for unregulated contaminants to provide data for future regulatory development. Finally, EPA requires PWSs to notify their consumers when they have violated these regulations. The 1996 Amendments to the SDWA require consumer notification to include a clear and understandable explanation of the nature of the violation, its potential adverse health effects, steps that the PWS is undertaking to correct the violation, and the possibility of alternative water supplies during the violation.

The SDWA applies to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Indian lands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The SDWA allows states and territories to seek EPA approval to administer their own PWSS programs. The authority to run a PWSS Program is called primacy. For a state to receive primacy, EPA must determine that the state meets certain requirements laid out in the SDWA and the regulations, including the adoption of drinking water regulations that are at least as stringent as the federal regulations and a demonstration that they can enforce the program requirements. Of the 56 states and territories, all but Wyoming and the District of Columbia have primacy. The EPA Regional Offices administer the PWSS Programs within these two jurisdictions.

The 1986 SDWS Amendments gave Indian tribes the right to apply for and receive primacy. EPA currently administers PWSS Programs on all Indian lands except the Navajo Nation, which was granted primacy in late 2000.



Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol Adobe Acrobat Reader format. Download a free reader from Adobe.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

copyright 2017. State of New Hampshire