SPRINGFIELD—Illinois community water supplies met all state and federal health requirements during calendar year 2006. This is the conclusion from information recently provided to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the Illinois EPA in its Annual Compliance Report.
This means that when more than 11.1 million persons in Illinois turned the tap for water for drinking, cooking or bathing, they received drinking water that did not exceed established health limits for state and federal regulated contaminants.
The Report, prepared as required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, reflect a more than three percent improvement in compliance since 1995, when publication of annual compliance reports was first required from all states by U.S. EPA. The data show that 93.2 percent of those served by Illinois community water supplies in calendar year 2006 received drinking water that met all health requirements.
In Illinois, water suppliers providing drinking water to consumers are regulated either as community or non-community water supplies, based chiefly on the number of users they serve for specified periods of time.
Campgrounds and highway rest stops are considered non-community water supplies, for instance, as are day care centers, schools and factories. These are regulated by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“The Illinois EPA’s goal is for every public water supply system to provide water that is consistently safe to drink, and these most recent figures show we continue to make progress toward that goal,” said IEPA Director Douglas Scott.
Community water supplies are regulated by the Illinois EPA. During 2006, there were 6,007 public water supplies in the state; 1,789 of them were defined as community water supplies falling under IEPA regulation.
During 2006, a total of 743 out of the 6,007 public water supplies in the state were shown to have violations of regulations. These 743 water systems accumulated a total of 4,635 violations. As in the past, most violations were monitoring/reporting violations (failure to collect samples or provide documentation), short in duration, and the public water supply returned to compliance by the next reporting period. The overall potential risk to public health was minimal. When a potential health risk was present, the public water system was required to issue public notification to all consumers.
U.S. EPA and the states evaluate compliance on the basis of both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) health requirements with standards that usually differ for the two categories. The latest IEPA figures show that 99.9 percent of the population served by community water supplies received water that met all acute standards, and 93.2 percent received water that was in compliance with chronic requirements. Standards for acute requirements are usually stricter than chronic standards. For most contaminants, the latter is based on projected health risks from daily consumption of large amounts (approximately two liters) of water on a daily basis over an extended period of time.
In most cases, when contaminant levels exceed maximum allowable limits, treatment is required to be installed in the shortest amount of time taking into consideration the cost, health effects (acute vs. long-term), and size of the project. All of the public water supplies that had violations during 2006 have either returned to compliance, entered into an enforceable agreement and schedule to take whatever steps are needed to return to compliance, or are in the formal enforcement process involving the office of the Illinois Attorney General. Enforcement cases involving the office of the Illinois Attorney General could result in monetary penalties as well as the water supply being required to achieve compliance with the regulations.
Copies of the summary or complete annual water system compliance reports can be obtained by contacting the Illinois EPA’s Division of Public Water Supplies, #13, P.O. Box 19276, Springfield, IL 62794-9276, (phone) 217-785-8653, or on the Agency’s website at www.epa.state.il.us/water/compliance/drinkingwater.