Jan 17, 2005

EPA Celebrates Safe Drinking Water Act's 30th Anniversary and Nebraska's Protection of Public Health

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act on December 16, and congratulated the Nebraskans who work hard everyday to ensure that their water is safe to drink.
"By working with our communities, we can all help protect public health by preventing pollution in the rivers, lakes, streams, and underground aquifers that are the sources of our drinking water," said Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford.
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), signed into law Dec. 16, 1974 and strengthened by amendments in 1986 and 1996, protects human health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply. The responsibility for ensuring safe drinking water is divided among EPA, states, tribes, water systems, and the public. Nearly all states and territories have received primacy for the drinking water program.
Nebraska’s drinking water program has 1,375 public water systems, serving most of its 1.7 million residents. Ground water is the source for most of Nebraska’s drinking water. Only five public water systems in the state get their drinking water from surface water sources.
The state issued about $17 million in loans to communities for infrastructure improvements from July 2003 to June 2004. Nebraska has received about $70 million since the inception of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
The SDWA requires EPA to set standards on drinking water contaminants that public water systems are required to meet, up from about 10 standards in the 1970s to more than 90 today. Compliance with standards among the nation’s more than 53,000 public water systems is improving nationally even as EPA adopts more standards.
The United States has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world at an average cost of only 5 gallons for a penny. Americans drink an average of one billion glasses of tap water each day.
The percentage of Americans receiving safe drinking water that meets health standards has risen significantly in the last 30 years. And this progress can continue with the public’s help. EPA encourages local governments, business and citizens to learn more about the sources and treatment of their drinking water by reading their water utility’s annual water quality report, and to take actions to help protect it.