22nd Anniversary of Signing of 1996 SDWA on August 6th

Monday, August 6th, marked the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments by President Clinton. Any anniversary provides an opportunity to step back and reflect on the progress that’s been made, and on future challenges.

In the first decade after the 1996 SDWA Amendments (1996-2006), an admirable collection of acronyms of drinking water regulations were finalized, ranging from the Stage 1 DBPR & IESWTR to LT1ESWTR & LT2ESWTR & Stage 2 DBPR and the GWR, as well as regulations for radionuclides and arsenic. Since that first decade, the Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) was finalized in 2013. The EPA regulations were the drivers for the drinking water sector for that first decade, but not so much now.

Looking ahead, outside of EPA working on a regulation for perchlorate and the Long-Term Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule, it’s not clear what the next drinking water regulation might address and when it might be finalized. The alphabet soup drinking water regulatory development process (CCL/UCMR/RegDet/Proposed NPDWR/Final NPDWR) is fundamentally sound, but some policy research and thinking and discussions are needed to determine how to best optimize the regulatory development process and meet the future challenges for the drinking water sector.