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Highlights from this Week’s NDWAC Meeting

This week, the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) met in Washington, DC to consider a range of drinking water issues and fulfill their role of providing advice to EPA.  Sarah Pillsbury (NH) is the state drinking water program representative on the NDWAC, although another state appointment is pending.  As part of their meeting, the NDWAC members received updates on various EPA activities including the Drinking Water Action Plan, regulatory development status, and a drinking water program implementation update.
The NDWAC provided an update to EPA on the work of a NDWAC subgroup that considered issues related to Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).  The subgroup specifically considered effective source water strategies and support needed by water systems.  The NDWAC evaluation concluded that EPA was taking appropriate steps on source water by examining triggers for HABs, developing nutrient criteria for source waters, and developing predictive tools for small lakes.  Also, NDWAC concurred with EPA actions in support of water systems through providing a toolbox for risk communication, improved analytical methods, treatment optimization guidance, and model response plans.
The NDWAC also discussed contaminants in ground water.  One issue identified by members was a lack of consistent terminology that can lead to confusion when discussing ground water.  Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is an example of a term with different meanings depending on where you are.  This is something that EPA agreed to explore.   Another concern of members was the emergence of direct potable reuse and the lack of national standards.  EPA is not currently working on any national regulation but does plan to share some best practices as a resource for states and water systems.
At the meeting, the NDWAC was asked to accept a new charge to consider how best to set priorities for health advisories.  This charge is based on issues from the Drinking Water Action Plan as well as concerns identified by states in previous discussion with EPA over development and implementation of Health Advisories.  The NDWAC agreed to form a group to examine the factors to be considered when prioritizing contaminants for health advisories, how best to involve states and other stakeholders, and how to enhance collaboration among stakeholder in developing risk management strategies.  The NDWAC will report their recommendations to EPA at a meeting next year.