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No System Too Small for Clean Drinking Water

By Chris Tittel

January 10, 2024

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) enacted in 1974, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets the standards for drinking water quality and monitors state, local authorities, and water suppliers who enforce those standards.

The SDWA applies to systems that provide piped water to 25 or more people, 60 or more days out of the year, or that have 15 or more service connections.

"The Act applies more to major water systems, such as main line systems that serve cities and other largely populated areas," said Tom Larkin, DOH-Manatee Environmental Public Health manager. "We work with much smaller systems than the systems covered under the SDWA to ensure drinking water is clean and safe and meets EPA standards."

DOH-Manatee works with owners and users of 110 "limited-use public water systems" located across the county, including systems with up to 15 service connections or that serve fewer than 25 people. "We test the water in these systems for bacteria, lead, and nitrates," said Larkin. "If a system is near a known contamination site, as designated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, we may sample for other pollutants, as well."

Limited use clean water systems
Environmental Public Health inspectors recommend that owners of limited-use drinking water systems inspect their systems quarterly and correct any deficiencies immediately.

Every system is inspected annually, which includes, among other things, checks to ensure equipment is in good working order, water pressure meets minimum standards, well seals are water-tight and well vents are properly screened.

Larkin said inspectors also make sure that system owners have submitted quarterly bacteriological and lead samples from the distribution systems and nitrate samples from the wells.


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