The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulates the nation’s public drinking water supply, safeguarding drinking water for the majority of US residents. However, the SDWA does not apply to privately owned wells. These smaller water systems account for the majority of federally unregulated water systems, serving approximately 12 percent of the US population, or 34 million residents.
This regulatory gap can be addressed at state and local levels through the adoption of state and local policies. Educating stakeholders about the potential risks of these federally unregulated water systems can be an effective way to gain support for such policy changes.
For state and local health department staff who want to understand how state and local policy, as well as outreach and education, can be used to ensure access to safe drinking water for people who use private wells, ChangeLab Solutions has developed Closing the Water Quality Gap. The fact sheet defines policy, discusses the role that health departments can play in policy change and provides examples of state and local policies that can be applied to federally unregulated wells.