Safe Drinking Water Act: Selected Regulatory and Legislative Issues [Updated April 10, 2008] [open pdf - 157KB]
"Much progress has been made in assuring the quality of public water supplies since the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was first enacted in 1974. Public water systems must meet extensive regulations, and public water system management has become a much more complex and professional endeavor. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulated some 91 drinking water contaminants, and more regulations are pending. In 2005, EPA reported that the number of systems reporting no violations of drinking water standards reached a new high of 94% in 2003. Despite such progress, however, an array of issues and challenges remain. […]. Congress last reauthorized SDWA in 1996. Although funding authority for most SDWA programs expired in FY2003, Congress continues to appropriate funds annually for these programs. No broad reauthorization bills have been proposed, as EPA, states, and water systems continue efforts to implement and comply with the requirements of the 1996 law and new regulations. A long-standing and overarching SDWA issue concerns the cumulative cost and complexity of drinking water standards and the ability of water systems, especially small systems, to comply with standards. The issue of the affordability of drinking water regulations, such as those for arsenic, radium, and disinfection by-products, has merged with the larger debate over what is the appropriate federal role in assisting communities with financing drinking water infrastructure."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34201