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EPA’s Regulatory Agenda

EPA has recently released its Regulatory Agenda.  The Agency publishes the semiannual regulatory agenda online (the e-Agenda) at http://www.reginfo.gov and at www.regulations.gov to update the public about regulations and major policies currently under development, reviews of existing regulations and major policies, and rules and major policymakings completed or canceled since the last agenda.  There are a number of drinking water related activities covered in this agenda.  The details are summarized below.

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for Lead and Copper: Regulatory Revisions:  In developing the short-term revisions in 2007, EPA identified several regulatory changes to be considered as part of identifying more comprehensive changes to the rule.  These considerations are longer-term in nature as they require additional data collection, research, analysis, and stakeholder involvement to support decisions. This action addresses the remaining regulatory revisions to be completed in the 2013/2014 time frame. Changes will be made to make the rule more cost effective and more protective of public health.  A work group including states has been working on these revisions for more than a year.

Timetable:

Proposed Rule – 10/00/2012

Final Action – 12/00/2013

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Revisions to the Total Coliform Rule: 

EPA is revising the Total Coliform Rule (TCR), which was published in 1989.  EPA committed to begin the process of revising the TCR as part of the Six-Year review requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.  EPA convened a Federal Advisory Committee (including states) to recommend revisions to the TCR. In 2010 EPA proposed a rule that has the same elements and effects as the recommendations in the agreement in principle (AIP) signed by members of the Federal Advisory Committee. The proposed rule requires water systems to find and fix pathways to contamination when monitoring results indicate that microbial contamination is present, develops specific criteria for public water systems to qualify for and stay on reduced monitoring, and aims to improve consumer understanding and confidence by making required public notices about the drinking water quality more meaningful.

Timetable:

Final Action – 06/00/2012

Revisions to the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Regulation (UCMR 3) for Public Water Systems:  The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), as amended in 1996, requires EPA to establish criteria for a program to monitor not more than 30 unregulated contaminants every five years. EPA published the first group of contaminants in the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Regulation (i.e., UCMR 1), which established a revised approach for UCMR implementation in 1999 and the second list of unregulated contaminants (UCMR 2) in 2007. The final regulation would meet the SDWA requirement for identifying new priority contaminants to be monitored during the third UCMR cycle (i.e., UCMR 3) of 2012-2015.

Timetable:

Final Action – 03/00/2012

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Regulation of Perchlorate:  The Agency announced in February 2011 that it is beginning development of a national drinking water regulation for perchlorate in drinking water. The Agency will evaluate the health effects of perchlorate, the feasibility of treatment, the affordability of treatment for small systems, the costs and the benefits (as part of the Health Risk Reduction Cost Analysis), and how a standard would be implemented (e.g. monitoring requirements). EPA also plans to seek input through informal and formal processes from the Science Advisory Board, the National Drinking Water Advisory Council, State and Tribal drinking water programs, and many other interested stakeholders on a number of issues relating to the regulation.  State representatives (MA, NV, MI) are now participating in an EPA work group considering the possible rule requirements.

Timetable:

Proposed Rule – 03/00/2013

Final Action – 05/00/2015

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Group Regulation of Carcinogenic Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs):  The Agency announced in 2011 that it plans to address carcinogenic contaminants as groups rather than individually in order to provide public health protections more quickly and also allow utilities to more effectively and efficiently plan for improvements. PCE and TCE, which the Agency determined were candidates for regulatory revision under the second six year review of the existing NPDWRs will be included in the VOC drinking water standard. Besides PCE and TCE, the group may include up to six additional regulated VOCs; and up to eight unregulated VOCs from the EPA’s Contaminant Candidate List 3.  There are four states (ID, NJ, IA, RI) participating in the EPA work group that is considering the Carcinogenic VOC regulation.

Timetable:

Proposed Rule – 10/00/2013

Final Action – 04/00/2015

National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations (NSDWR): Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) and Technical Corrections to the NSDWR:  Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) was primarily used as an automobile fuel additive, introduced in the late 1970s during lead phase-out as an octane enhancer. Production increased in the 1990s to meet the requirement of the federal Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) and Oxyfuels programs required by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. However, at least 25 states passed laws banning or limiting MTBE use, and refiners removed MTBE from gasoline in 2006. MTBE’s distinctive turpentine-like taste and odor can be detected at low levels. In 1997, EPA issued a drinking water advisory of 20 to 40 micrograms per liter based on taste and odor. Monitoring data for public water systems found that most drinking water detections are below this taste and odor threshold. Presently, the Agency is revising the health assessment for MTBE.

Timetable:

Withdrawn – 08/16/2011

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations; Arsenic and Clarifications to Compliance and New Source Contaminants Monitoring (Section 610 Review):  On January 22, 2001, EPA revised the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for arsenic to 0.010 mg/L.  While EPA took steps to evaluate and mitigate impacts on small entities as part of the promulgation of the Arsenic Rule, EPA reviewed the rule for arsenic pursuant to section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act . EPA has reviewed comments received in response to this review, which identified concerns related to the cost associated with treatment, disposal of waste streams, compliance determinations for the maximum contaminant level (MCL), risk communication and difficulty using alternative treatment technologies. EPA identified available resources to address these concerns and has made a determination not to revise the regulation at this time. See EPA’s report summarizing the results of this review in the docket EPA-OW-2010-0728. This docket can be accessed at www.regulations.gov.

Timetable:
Completion of 610 Review – 08/16/2011