The National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC), met last week for their annual face to face meeting.  They heard from representatives of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water about EPA’s current activities, but the major topic discussed during the meeting was Health Advisories.  At their meeting last year, the NDWAC formed a workgroup to study the EPA’s process of creating and issuing Health Advisories and to recommend how the Health Advisories and the development process can be improved.  This workgroup reported back at this meeting with recommendations for the NDWAC to consider.  The recommendations covered various aspects of the Health Advisory process, from early development through issuance, and into follow up by states and water systems.  General recommendations included:

  • Additional transparency, especially EPA notifying stakeholders about the status of Health Advisory development.
  • Opportunity for more stakeholder input all through the process, but without unnecessarily slowing down the development process
  • Assure Health Advisories are based on sound science
  • Tell what is known, and especially what is not known, about the contaminant so everyone can react appropriately.  A standard template for the Health Advisory would help.
  • Place an emphasis on risk communication, especially simple and easy to understand messages for the public.
  • Information is needed about analytical methods for other matrices besides drinking water, so sources of contamination can be identified and clean up can be managed

There appears to be general support for the recommendations from NDWAC members and the Council will officially provide a report to EPA in the new year.
The NDWAC also discussed opportunities for improving water system operations and compliance through partnerships but also recognizing challenges in the process.  Finally, the NDWAC took public comment related to the Health Advisory issue and from citizens encouraging EPA to take action to lower the MCLG and MCL for fluoride.
Information on the NDWAC, their meetings, and their formal actions can be found here.