Waves in the Water Works

by Mia Adessa, Copy Ed.; Civil Engineering—ASCE, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1987, Vol. 57, Issue 3, Pg. 48-50

Document Type: Feature article


The 1986 amendments to the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act are far reaching laws that may affect many drinking water utilities across the nation in the next decade. Congress passed legislation in June 1986, that asks the EPA to set two levels for 83 contaminants that, in 1970, the EPA suggested for regulation. One level will be based on a health premise, the level at which a contaminant has no known health effect, with a margin of safety. The other level, based on the best available technology, is a level as close as possible to the health goal and is the level at which utilities must supply water. If drinking water utilities do not comply with this level, they may face fines of $25,000 per day. Problems with the legislation are: Congress ordered chemicals to be regulated before very much was known about them; the techniques for determining carcinogenicity and risk assessment are an inexact science; and lastly, the difference between the health goal level and acceptable contamination level may open up an area of liabilities for utility owners and engineers.

Subject Headings: Water waves | Water supply systems | Drinking water | Health hazards | Safety | Water policy | Legislation | Environmental Protection Agency

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