EPA Releases Water Contamination Data


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it is releasing the first set of data collected under the fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5).

The department’s Aug. 17 news release states that this will help to deliver on EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, UCMR 5 will help provide new data to improve the EPA’s understanding of the frequency that 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and lithium are found in the nation’s drinking water systems, as well as at what levels. 

About the Data

The monitoring data on PFAS and lithium will reportedly help the agency make decisions about future actions for protecting public health under the Safe Drinking Water Act. These actions would reportedly help advance the Biden Administration’s aim to combat PFAS pollution and protect drinking water.

PFAS have reportedly been an urgent public health issue that communities are facing across the nation. The latest science reportedly suggests exposure to certain PFAS “over long periods of time is linked to significant health risks,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox.

“That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration is leading a whole-of-government approach to address these harmful chemicals. As part of this commitment, EPA is conducting the most comprehensive monitoring effort for PFAS ever, at every large and midsize public water system in America, and at hundreds small water systems.”

The release stated that the data collected for UCMR 5 would aid science-based decision-making and help the EPA better understand national-level exposure to these 29 PFAS and lithium, as well as whether they disproportionately impact communities with environmental justice concerns.

The initial data release reportedly represents around 7% of the total results that EPA expects to receive over the next three years. The Agency said it would update the results quarterly and share them with the public in the EPA’s National Contaminant Occurrence Database (NCOD) until completion of data reporting in 2026.

The EPA stated that it is acting to protect peoples’ health from PFAS in drinking water. In March, the EPA proposed the first ever standards to limit certain PFAS in drinking water.

If finalized, the proposal could reportedly allow public water systems to use results from UCMR 5 to meet the rule’s initial monitoring requirements and to inform communities of actions that need to be taken. In the period before the PFAS drinking water standard is final, the EPA has reportedly established Health Advisories for four PFAS included in the UCMR 5.

Additionally, the EPA states that it is moving forward to expand the investigation and cleanup of PFAS contaminated sites, including through finalizing new safeguards under Superfund to hold polluters accountable for contamination from two common PFAS chemicals.

The agency also recently issued its third order to require PFAS manufacturers to conduct testing under EPA’s National Testing Strategy to help EPA better confront these forever chemicals.

Additionally, the EPA is reportedly deploying $9 billion, included in President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, to invest in communities with drinking water impacted by PFAS and other emerging contaminants.

This reportedly includes $4 billion from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and $5 billion from EPA’s “Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities” grant program.

The release says that states, Tribes and communities can also utilize an additional nearly $12 billion in BIL DWSRF funds and billions more in annual SRF funds dedicated to making drinking water safer. These funds will reportedly help communities make important investments in solutions to remove PFAS from drinking water.

More from the EPA

At the beginning of this month, officials from the EPA announced a $58 million grant program to protect children from lead in drinking water at schools and childcare facilities across the country. 

According to the release, the funding has set an “unprecedented” commitment to delivering clean water to all communities, focusing on historically marginalized and low-income areas.

The release stated that for the first time, activities that remove sources of lead in drinking water are now eligible for funding through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN). The grant is reportedly provided to states, territories and Tribes to advance the Biden Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan.

The EPA is also reportedly releasing a revised grant implementation document, meant to outline new authority from the bipartisan infrastructure law to fund these removal activities. The Voluntary School and Child Care Lead Testing and Reduction Grant Program funds voluntary lead testing, compliance monitoring and lead in drinking water remediation projects.

According to the release, these remediation actions may include, though are not limited to, the removal, installation and replacement of internal plumbing, lead pipes or lead connectors, faucets, water fountains, water filler stations, point-of-use devices and other lead-free apparatus related to drinking water.

The release stated that the grant program requires the use of guidance from the EPA’s Training, Testing, and Taking Action (3Ts) Program. Tools and resources from the 3Ts Program reportedly help states, territories and Tribes provide technical assistance and take action to support the health and safety of children in early care and education settings.

Additionally, the program will reportedly advance President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which helps address environmental injustice through ensuring that the benefits of federal investments in clean water, clean energy and other programs reach communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

The EPA said that this announcement will advance the goals of the Biden Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan and the EPA’s Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities.

The announcement was made during an event in Boston by Fox and EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash, along with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Representative Katherine Clark.

Under these initiatives, the EPA is also developing the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements to strengthen the Agency’s regulatory framework. According to the release, the EPA plans to propose requirements that would result in the replacement of all lead service lines as quickly as possible, along with other actions.

The EPA is also reportedly investing $15 billion in bipartisan infrastructure law funding for lead service line removal and $11.7 billion in general funding through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which can also reportedly be utilized for lead removal projects.


Tagged categories: Clean Water Act; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; non-potable water; North America; potable water; Quality Control; water damage; Water/Wastewater

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