Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2020


The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was implemented in the United States (U.S.) in 1974 for the purpose of protecting consumers from water contaminants. The Federal government gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to delegate the responsibility of ensuring that States, Sovereign Nations and U.S. territories meet specific requirements upon being granted primacy to regulate all public water systems (PWSs) in their jurisdiction. An examination of seven years (2013-2019) of SDWA compliance data from all PWSs in the U.S. revealed trends within various categories of regulating agencies that could create disparities in how water systems are regulated. Analyses of variance (ANOVA) showed correlations between the number of violations and population as well as the rate of increase in violations and population. Results show that on average, a high percentage of health-based (HB) violations occurred at the least populated states, regions and U.S. territories. Also, EPA regulated PWSs (mostly American Indian Tribal) and PWSs located in U.S Territories reported higher numbers than State regulated PWSs. American Samoa with one of the lowest populations served had the highest average number of health-based violations, while Washington, D.C., with substantially more people had the lowest average number of health-based violations. The rate at which these HB violations increased from year to year was fastest in American Samoa as well, but lowest in EPA Region 7. These trends reveal disparities between systems regulated by different agencies and in relation to the populations served.


SDWA, safe drinking water act, compliance