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EPA: Utilities should divulge tap water contents

graphic February 11, 1998
Web posted at: 2:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday proposed rules -- expected to become final later this year -- that would require water utilities to list chemicals and potential contaminants in local tap water.

All but the smallest of the nation's 56,000 municipal, state and regional water utilities would provide annual reports on what the water contains and whether it meets federal health standards.

"The new information will provide consumers with a snapshot of the current state of their local drinking water supply," EPA Administrator Carol Browner said at a news conference.

The EPA initiative apparently faces little opposition from drinking-water providers. Alan Roberson, spokesman for the American Water Works Association, said member utilities were "generally supportive" of the EPA proposals.

AWWA supported the Safe Drinking Water Act, the 1997 legislation that asked the EPA to establish new right-to-know rules for drinking water.

Roberson said the cost to utilities of providing the additional information would be minimal.

The proposals face a 45-day comment period. Final regulations are expected in August and would take effect in late 1998 or early 1999. The agency said consumers probably would not receive the detailed information in their water bills until later in 1999.

The annual reports would be included with water bills, except in cases of systems serving fewer than 10,000 customers. In those cases the information could be posted at a central location or put into local newspapers.


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