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 About the Safe Drinking Water Act Back BSDW Home Page   

The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress on December 16, 1974. The purpose of this important legislation was to provide broad and consistent public health protection throughout the nation. The United States Environmental Protection Agency was placed in the role of implementer of the Act. The Act defined public water systems and set monitoring requirements and standards called maximum contaminant levels for drinking water constituents that are known to cause health problems.

All states were required to comply with the Act. States were given the option of accepting primacy authority for the implementation and enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Regulations. If primacy was refused, the U.S. EPA would implement the Act and the Code of Federal Regulations on behalf of the state. The State of Nevada was granted primacy authority in 1978.

The Nevada Safe Drinking Water Program was originally implemented by the Nevada State Health Division; however, the program now resides in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection. The program is administered and enforced by the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water. The Bureau has oversight authority for all public water systems throughout the state and cooperatively implements the regulatory requirements in Clark and Washoe counties through their District Health Departments.

The Safe Drinking Water Program is known officially as the Public Water System Supervision Program and is funded by capitalization grants from the U.S. EPA and by fees for public water system operation permits that were enacted by the state legislature and fees for plan reviews enacted by the State Board of Health (State Environmental Commission).

Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1977, 1986 and 1996. On these occasions, public health protection was strengthened. Over the decades, many facets of providing safe drinking water have been examined by Congress and the U.S. EPA. Drinking water filtration and treatment requirements, sanitary construction practices, emergency planning and risk assessment, cross-connection control, certified water system operator certification requirements, system management and capacity development initiatives, tested and safe system component and drinking water additive standards and many new drinking water standards have been added to the Act.

Nevada has developed public water systems regulations to complement these federal requirements and continues to review the needs of the state. The Act and the Code of Federal Regulations are evolving to meet the needs of the Nation's citizens as supported by scientific advancements in the field of public health.

It is the responsibility of owners, managers and operators of public water systems to meet the requirements of the Act. They are the first line defenders of public health. Their commitment to providing the public with safe drinking water is an important assurance that people are receiving reliable and safe drinking water. The staff of the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water implements new regulatory requirements, assists public water systems with regulatory issues, monitors compliance sample results, maintains records on all public water systems, inspects public water systems facilities, provides and coordinates training for operators, interfaces and reports to the U.S. EPA, takes appropriate enforcement actions and reviews subdivisions and water system improvement project plans.

There are other important organizations that assist the Bureau including district health departments and public water systems. Also included are the staff of the State Revolving Loan Fund, the Nevada Rural Water Association, the Rural Community Assistance Corporation and the University of Nevada. These organizations are essential to ensure that public water systems maintain the ability to comply with regulatory requirements and provide customers with safe drinking water.

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