How can I retrieve more technical information on NAWQA’s methodology, design, and findings?
Access http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/swqa for USGS publications. This includes (1) a USGS technical report (66 pages), Anthropogenic Organic Compounds in Source Water of Nine Community Water Systems that Withdraw from Streams, 2002—05, by Kingsbury and others, 2008; (2) two USGS Fact Sheets (each 6 pages), Man-made Organic Compounds in Source Water of Nine Community Water Systems that Withdraw from Streams, 2002—05 by Kingsbury and others, and Organic Compounds in Potomac River Water Used for Public Supply near Washington, D.C., 2003—05 by Brayton and others; and (3) a USGS data report containing information on the study design and analytical methods and tables of concentration data by Carter and others.
How do other agencies and community water systems use NAWQA information on source-water quality assessments?
USGS works closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), providing information to inform decisions related to various pieces of environmental legislation governing water quality and human health. For example, information is used by the USEPA to evaluate the drinking water Contaminant Candidate List (http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccl/index.html) and to develop or revise drinking-water standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Information is also used by the USEPA for decisions on registration or re-registration of new or existing pesticides under the Food Quality Protection Act. Managers associated with community water systems also use the information to continue to manage and track the quality of public drinking-water supplies, and to help guide decisions on treatment processes in the future.
How can I find out what is in my drinking water?
If drinking water is supplied by a community water system, the water supplier has the results of all the tests that are performed on water samples from the water system. Furthermore, results of testing are summarized in a Consumer Confidence Report that water suppliers must supply to their customers annually. Monitoring schedules differ according to the type of contaminant and the population that the community water system serves. In the Consumer Confidence Reports, community water systems are required to provide general information regarding the source(s) of drinking water, the treatment process, and the levels of detected contaminants that are regulated by a primary drinking-water regulation. More information about Consumer Confidence Reports, including links to reports for some water systems, is available at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr.
Where can I get information on individual chemicals?
Additional information on selected chemicals in the environment can be found at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Web site (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaq.html).
How do I learn more about how drinking water is regulated?
The USEPA, together with States, Tribes, and its many partners, protects public health by ensuring safe drinking water and protecting ground water. The agency oversees implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is the national law safeguarding drinking water provided by public water systems in America. Access the USEPA Web site on safe water and learn about drinking water programs authorized under the Safe Drinking Water Act, such as how to find information about water quality; how to test your water quality; more information on drinking-water standards; how to find information about specific contaminants and public water systems; and more (http://www.epa.gov/safewater/).
What other USGS programs study source water and drinking water?
Contaminants like pesticides and volatile organic compounds have been researched and monitored in streams and ground water by the USGS since the 1980s. Initial research on these substances is often done by the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program (or “TOXICs”) in USGS (http://toxics.usgs.gov/). The Toxics Program started in the 1980s with research on pesticides and volatile organic compounds, topics about which little was known at the time. Later in the 1990s, research by the TOXICs Program expanded to what we now call “contaminants of emerging concern,” including many compounds used in our homes, businesses and industries, such as human and veterinary pharmaceuticals, detergents, fragrances, fire retardants, disinfectants, plastics, and insect repellants. The research answers many questions, including the role of different sources such as wastewater-treatment plants, livestock production and animal feedlot wastes, aquaculture, onsite septic systems, combined sewer overflows; transport in different environmental settings; environmental health effects and assimilation in organisms; and persistence of contaminants in drinking-water sources.