U.S Code last checked for updates: May 20, 2024
§ 300g–3.
Enforcement of drinking water regulations
(a)
Notice to State and public water system; issuance of administrative order; civil action
(1)
(A)
Whenever the Administrator finds during a period during which a State has primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems (within the meaning of section 300g–2(a) of this title) that any public water system—
(i)
for which a variance under section 300g–4 or an exemption under section 300g–5 of this title is not in effect, does not comply with any applicable requirement, or
(ii)
for which a variance under section 300g–4 or an exemption under section 300g–5 of this title is in effect, does not comply with any schedule or other requirement imposed pursuant thereto,
he shall so notify the State and such public water system and provide such advice and technical assistance to such State and public water system as may be appropriate to bring the system into compliance with the requirement by the earliest feasible time.
(B)
If, beyond the thirtieth day after the Administrator’s notification under subparagraph (A), the State has not commenced appropriate enforcement action, the Administrator shall issue an order under subsection (g) requiring the public water system to comply with such applicable requirement or the Administrator shall commence a civil action under subsection (b).
(2)
Enforcement in nonprimacy states.—
(A)
In general.—
If, on the basis of information available to the Administrator, the Administrator finds, with respect to a period in which a State does not have primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems, that a public water system in the State—
(i)
for which a variance under section 300g–4 of this title or an exemption under section 300g–5 of this title is not in effect, does not comply with any applicable requirement; or
(ii)
for which a variance under section 300g–4 of this title or an exemption under section 300g–5 of this title is in effect, does not comply with any schedule or other requirement imposed pursuant to the variance or exemption;
the Administrator shall issue an order under subsection (g) requiring the public water system to comply with the requirement, or commence a civil action under subsection (b).
(B)
Notice.—
If the Administrator takes any action pursuant to this paragraph, the Administrator shall notify an appropriate local elected official, if any, with jurisdiction over the public water system of the action prior to the time that the action is taken.
(b)
Judicial determinations in appropriate Federal district courts; civil penalties, separate violations
The Administrator may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court to require compliance with any applicable requirement, with an order issued under subsection (g), or with any schedule or other requirement imposed pursuant to a variance or exemption granted under section 300g–4 or 300g–5 of this title if—
(1)
authorized under paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (a), or
(2)
if requested by (A) the chief executive officer of the State in which is located the public water system which is not in compliance with such regulation or requirement, or (B) the agency of such State which has jurisdiction over compliance by public water systems in the State with national primary drinking water regulations or State drinking water regulations.
The court may enter, in an action brought under this subsection, such judgement as protection of public health may require, taking into consideration the time necessary to comply and the availability of alternative water supplies; and, if the court determines that there has been a violation of the regulation or schedule or other requirement with respect to which the action was brought, the court may, taking into account the seriousness of the violation, the population at risk, and other appropriate factors, impose on the violator a civil penalty of not to exceed $25,000 for each day in which such violation occurs.
(c)
Notice to States, the Administrator, and persons served
(1)
In general
Each owner or operator of a public water system shall give notice of each of the following to the persons served by the system:
(A)
Notice of any failure on the part of the public water system to—
(i)
comply with an applicable maximum contaminant level or treatment technique requirement of, or a testing procedure prescribed by, a national primary drinking water regulation; or
(ii)
perform monitoring required by section 300j–4(a) of this title.
(B)
If the public water system is subject to a variance granted under subsection (a)(1)(A), (a)(2), or (e) of section 300g–4 of this title for an inability to meet a maximum contaminant level requirement or is subject to an exemption granted under section 300g–5 of this title, notice of—
(i)
the existence of the variance or exemption; and
(ii)
any failure to comply with the requirements of any schedule prescribed pursuant to the variance or exemption.
(C)
Notice of the concentration level of any unregulated contaminant for which the Administrator has required public notice pursuant to paragraph (2)(F).
(D)
Notice that the public water system exceeded the lead action level under section 141.80(c) of title 40, Code of Federal Regulations (or a prescribed level of lead that the Administrator establishes for public education or notification in a successor regulation promulgated pursuant to section 300g–1 of this title).
(2)
Form, manner, and frequency of notice
(A)
In general
The Administrator shall, by regulation, and after consultation with the States, prescribe the manner, frequency, form, and content for giving notice under this subsection. The regulations shall—
(i)
provide for different frequencies of notice based on the differences between violations that are intermittent or infrequent and violations that are continuous or frequent; and
(ii)
take into account the seriousness of any potential adverse health effects that may be involved.
(B)
State requirements
(i)
In general
A State may, by rule, establish alternative notification requirements—
(I)
with respect to the form and content of notice given under and in a manner in accordance with subparagraph (C); and
(II)
with respect to the form and content of notice given under subparagraph (E).
(ii)
Contents
(iii)
Relationship to section 300g–2
(C)
Notice of violations or exceedances with potential to have serious adverse effects on human health
Regulations issued under subparagraph (A) shall specify notification procedures for each violation, and each exceedance described in paragraph (1)(D), by a public water system that has the potential to have serious adverse effects on human health as a result of short-term exposure. Each notice of violation or exceedance provided under this subparagraph shall—
(i)
be distributed as soon as practicable, but not later than 24 hours, after the public water system learns of the violation or exceedance;
(ii)
provide a clear and readily understandable explanation of—
(I)
the violation or exceedance;
(II)
the potential adverse effects on human health;
(III)
the steps that the public water system is taking to correct the violation or exceedance; and
(IV)
the necessity of seeking alternative water supplies until the violation or exceedance is corrected;
(iii)
be provided to the Administrator and the head of the State agency that has primary enforcement responsibility under section 300g–2 of this title, as applicable, as soon as practicable, but not later than 24 hours after the public water system learns of the violation or exceedance; and
(iv)
as required by the State agency in general regulations of the State agency, or on a case-by-case basis after the consultation referred to in clause (iii), considering the health risks involved—
(I)
be provided to appropriate media, including broadcast media;
(II)
be prominently published in a newspaper of general circulation serving the area not later than 1 day after distribution of a notice pursuant to clause (i) or the date of publication of the next issue of the newspaper; or
(III)
be provided by posting or door-to-door notification.
(D)
Notice by the Administrator
(E)
Written notice
(i)
In general
(ii)
Form and manner of notice
(F)
Unregulated contaminants
(3)
Reports
(A)
Annual report by State
(i)
In general
(ii)
Distribution
(B)
Annual report by Administrator
(4)
Consumer confidence reports by community water systems
(A)
Reports to consumers
(B)
Contents of report
The consumer confidence reports under this paragraph shall include, but not be limited to, each of the following:
(i)
Information on the source of the water purveyed.
(ii)
A brief and plainly worded definition of the terms “action level”, “maximum contaminant level goal”, “maximum contaminant level”, “variances”, and “exemptions” as provided in the regulations of the Administrator.
(iii)
If any regulated contaminant is detected in the water purveyed by the public water system, a statement describing, as applicable—
(I)
the maximum contaminant level goal;
(II)
the maximum contaminant level;
(III)
the level of the contaminant in the water system;
(IV)
the action level for the contaminant; and
(V)
for any contaminant for which there has been a violation of the maximum contaminant level during the year concerned, a brief statement in plain language regarding the health concerns that resulted in regulation of the contaminant, as provided by the Administrator in regulations under subparagraph (A).
(iv)
Information on compliance with national primary drinking water regulations, as required by the Administrator, including corrosion control efforts, and notice if the system is operating under a variance or exemption and the basis on which the variance or exemption was granted.
(v)
Information on the levels of unregulated contaminants for which monitoring is required under section 300j–4(a)(2) of this title (including levels of cryptosporidium and radon where States determine they may be found).
(vi)
A statement that the presence of contaminants in drinking water does not necessarily indicate that the drinking water poses a health risk and that more information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the Environmental Protection Agency hotline.
(vii)
Identification of, if any—
(I)
exceedances described in paragraph (1)(D) for which corrective action has been required by the Administrator or the State (in the case of a State exercising primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems) during the monitoring period covered by the consumer confidence report; and
(II)
violations that occurred during the monitoring period covered by the consumer confidence report.
A public water system may include such additional information as it deems appropriate for public education. The Administrator may, for not more than 3 regulated contaminants other than those referred to in clause (iii)(V), require a consumer confidence report under this paragraph to include the brief statement in plain language regarding the health concerns that resulted in regulation of the contaminant or contaminants concerned, as provided by the Administrator in regulations under subparagraph (A).
(C)
Coverage
The Governor of a State may determine not to apply the mailing requirement of subparagraph (A) to a community water system serving fewer than 10,000 persons. Any such system shall—
(i)
inform, in the newspaper notice required by clause (iii) or by other means, its customers that the system will not be mailing the report as required by subparagraph (A);
(ii)
make the consumer confidence report available upon request to the public; and
(iii)
publish the report referred to in subparagraph (A) annually in one or more local newspapers serving the area in which customers of the system are located.
(D)
Alternative to publication
For any community water system which, pursuant to subparagraph (C), is not required to meet the mailing requirement of subparagraph (A) and which serves 500 persons or fewer, the community water system may elect not to comply with clause (i) or (iii) of subparagraph (C). If the community water system so elects, the system shall, at a minimum—
(i)
prepare an annual consumer confidence report pursuant to subparagraph (B); and
(ii)
provide notice at least once per year to each of its customers by mail, by door-to-door delivery, by posting or by other means authorized by the regulations of the Administrator that the consumer confidence report is available upon request.
(E)
Alternative form and content
(F)
Revisions
(i)
Understandability and frequency
Not later than 24 months after October 23, 2018, the Administrator, in consultation with the parties identified in subparagraph (A), shall issue revisions to the regulations issued under subparagraph (A)—
(I)
to increase—
(aa)
the readability, clarity, and understandability of the information presented in consumer confidence reports; and
(bb)
the accuracy of information presented, and risk communication, in consumer confidence reports; and
(II)
with respect to community water systems that serve 10,000 or more persons, to require each such community water system to provide, by mail, electronic means, or other methods described in clause (ii), a consumer confidence report to each customer of the system at least biannually.
(ii)
Electronic delivery
(5)
Exceedance of lead level at households
(A)
Strategic plan
(B)
EPA initiation of notice
(i)
Forwarding of data by employee of the Agency
(ii)
Dissemination of information by owner or operator
The owner or operator of a public water system shall disseminate to affected households the information described in subparagraph (C) within a time period established by the Administrator, if the owner or operator—
(I)
receives data and information under clause (i); and
(II)
has not, since the date of the test that developed the data, notified the affected households—
(aa)
with respect to the concentration of lead in the drinking water of the affected households; and
(bb)
that the concentration of lead in the drinking water of the affected households exceeds the lead action level under section 141.80(c) of title 40, Code of Federal Regulations (or a prescribed level of lead that the Administrator establishes for public education or notification in a successor regulation promulgated pursuant to section 300g–1 of this title).
(iii)
Consultation
(I)
Deadline
(II)
Delegation
(iv)
Dissemination by Administrator
The Administrator shall, as soon as practicable, disseminate to affected households the information described in subparagraph (C) if—
(I)
the owner or operator of the public water system does not disseminate the information to the affected households within the time period determined by the Administrator, as required by clause (ii); and
(II)
(aa)
the Administrator and the applicable Governor do not agree on a plan described in clause (iii)(I) during the consultation period under that clause; or
(bb)
the applicable Governor does not disseminate the information within 24 hours after the end of the consultation period.
(C)
Information required
The information described in this subparagraph includes—
(i)
a clear explanation of the potential adverse effects on human health of drinking water that contains a concentration of lead that exceeds the lead action level under section 141.80(c) of title 40, Code of Federal Regulations (or a prescribed level of lead that the Administrator establishes for public education or notification in a successor regulation promulgated pursuant to section 300g–1 of this title);
(ii)
the steps that the owner or operator of the public water system is taking to mitigate the concentration of lead; and
(iii)
the necessity of seeking alternative water supplies until the date on which the concentration of lead is mitigated.
(6)
Privacy
(d)
Notice of noncompliance with secondary drinking water regulations
(e)
State authority to adopt or enforce laws or regulations respecting drinking water regulations or public water systems unaffected
(f)
Notice and public hearing; availability of recommendations transmitted to State and public water system
If the Administrator makes a finding of noncompliance (described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of subsection (a)(1)) with respect to a public water system in a State which has primary enforcement responsibility, the Administrator may, for the purpose of assisting that State in carrying out such responsibility and upon the petition of such State or public water system or persons served by such system, hold, after appropriate notice, public hearings for the purpose of gathering information from technical or other experts, Federal, State, or other public officials, representatives of such public water system, persons served by such system, and other interested persons on—
(1)
the ways in which such system can within the earliest feasible time be brought into compliance with the regulation or requirement with respect to which such finding was made, and
(2)
the means for the maximum feasible protection of the public health during any period in which such system is not in compliance with a national primary drinking water regulation or requirement applicable to a variance or exemption.
On the basis of such hearings the Administrator shall issue recommendations which shall be sent to such State and public water system and shall be made available to the public and communications media.
(g)
Administrative order requiring compliance; notice and hearing; civil penalty; civil actions
(1)
In any case in which the Administrator is authorized to bring a civil action under this section or under section 300j–4 of this title with respect to any applicable requirement, the Administrator also may issue an order to require compliance with such applicable requirement.
(2)
An order issued under this subsection shall not take effect, in the case of a State having primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems in that State, until after the Administrator has provided the State with an opportunity to confer with the Administrator regarding the order. A copy of any order issued under this subsection shall be sent to the appropriate State agency of the State involved if the State has primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems in that State. Any order issued under this subsection shall state with reasonable specificity the nature of the violation. In any case in which an order under this subsection is issued to a corporation, a copy of such order shall be issued to appropriate corporate officers.
(3)
(A)
Any person who violates, or fails or refuses to comply with, an order under this subsection shall be liable to the United States for a civil penalty of not more than $25,000 per day of violation.
(B)
In a case in which a civil penalty sought by the Administrator under this paragraph does not exceed $5,000, the penalty shall be assessed by the Administrator after notice and opportunity for a public hearing (unless the person against whom the penalty is assessed requests a hearing on the record in accordance with section 554 of title 5). In a case in which a civil penalty sought by the Administrator under this paragraph exceeds $5,000, but does not exceed $25,000, the penalty shall be assessed by the Administrator after notice and opportunity for a hearing on the record in accordance with section 554 of title 5.
(C)
Whenever any civil penalty sought by the Administrator under this subsection for a violation of an applicable requirement exceeds $25,000, the penalty shall be assessed by a civil action brought by the Administrator in the appropriate United States district court (as determined under the provisions of title 28).
(D)
If any person fails to pay an assessment of a civil penalty after it has become a final and unappealable order, or after the appropriate court of appeals has entered final judgment in favor of the Administrator, the Attorney General shall recover the amount for which such person is liable in any appropriate district court of the United States. In any such action, the validity and appropriateness of the final order imposing the civil penalty shall not be subject to review.
(h)
Consolidation incentive
(1)
In general
An owner or operator of a public water system may submit to the State in which the system is located (if the State has primary enforcement responsibility under section 300g–2 of this title) or to the Administrator (if the State does not have primary enforcement responsibility) a plan (including specific measures and schedules) for—
(A)
the physical consolidation of the system with 1 or more other systems;
(B)
the consolidation of significant management and administrative functions of the system with 1 or more other systems;
(C)
the transfer of ownership of the system that may reasonably be expected to improve drinking water quality; or
(D)
entering into a contractual agreement for significant management or administrative functions of the system to correct violations identified in the plan.
(2)
Consequences of approval
(3)
Authority for mandatory assessment
(A)
Authority
A State with primary enforcement responsibility or the Administrator (if the State does not have primary enforcement responsibility) may require the owner or operator of a public water system to assess options for consolidation, or transfer of ownership of the system, as described in paragraph (1), or other actions expected to achieve compliance with national primary drinking water regulations described in clause (i)(I), if—
(i)
the public water system—
(I)
has repeatedly violated one or more national primary drinking water regulations and such repeated violations are likely to adversely affect human health; and
(II)
(aa)
is unable or unwilling to take feasible and affordable actions, as determined by the State with primary enforcement responsibility or the Administrator (if the State does not have primary enforcement responsibility), that will result in the public water system complying with the national primary drinking water regulations described in subclause (I), including accessing technical assistance and financial assistance through the State loan fund pursuant to section 300j–12 of this title; or
(bb)
has already undertaken actions described in item (aa) without achieving compliance;
(ii)
such consolidation, transfer, or other action is feasible; and
(iii)
such consolidation, transfer, or other action could result in greater compliance with national primary drinking water regulations.
(B)
Tailoring of assessments
(C)
Approved entities
(D)
Burden of assessments
(4)
Financial assistance
(5)
Protection of nonresponsible system
(A)
Identification of liabilities
(i)
In general
An owner or operator of a public water system that submits a plan pursuant to paragraph (1) based on an assessment conducted with respect to such public water system under paragraph (3) shall identify as part of such plan—
(I)
any potential and existing liability for penalties and damages arising from each specific violation identified in the plan of which the owner or operator is aware; and
(II)
any funds or other assets that are available to satisfy such liability, as of the date of submission of such plan, to the public water system that committed such violation.
(ii)
Inclusion
(B)
Reservation of funds
(6)
Regulations
(i)
“Applicable requirement” defined
In this section, the term “applicable requirement” means—
(1)
a requirement of section 300g–1, 300g–3, 300g–4, 300g–5, 300g–6, 300i–2, 300j, or 300j–4 of this title;
(2)
a regulation promulgated pursuant to a section referred to in paragraph (1);
(3)
a schedule or requirement imposed pursuant to a section referred to in paragraph (1); and
(4)
a requirement of, or permit issued under, an applicable State program for which the Administrator has made a determination that the requirements of section 300g–2 of this title have been satisfied, or an applicable State program approved pursuant to this part.
(j)
Improved accuracy and availability of compliance monitoring data
(1)
Strategic plan
Not later than 1 year after October 23, 2018, the Administrator, in coordination with States (including States without primary enforcement responsibility under section 300g–2 of this title), public water systems, and other interested stakeholders, shall develop and provide to Congress a strategic plan for improving the accuracy and availability of monitoring data collected to demonstrate compliance with national primary drinking water regulations and submitted—
(A)
by public water systems to States; or
(B)
by States to the Administrator.
(2)
Evaluation
In developing the strategic plan under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall evaluate any challenges faced—
(A)
in ensuring the accuracy and integrity of submitted data described in paragraph (1);
(B)
by States and public water systems in implementing an electronic system for submitting such data, including the technical and economic feasibility of implementing such a system; and
(C)
by users of such electronic systems in being able to access such data.
(3)
Findings and recommendations
The Administrator shall include in the strategic plan provided to Congress under paragraph (1)—
(A)
a summary of the findings of the evaluation under paragraph (2); and
(B)
recommendations on practicable, cost-effective methods and means that can be employed to improve the accuracy and availability of submitted data described in paragraph (1).
(4)
Consultation
(July 1, 1944, ch. 373, title XIV, § 1414, as added Pub. L. 93–523, § 2(a), Dec. 16, 1974, 88 Stat. 1666; amended Pub. L. 95–190, § 12(b), Nov. 16, 1977, 91 Stat. 1398; Pub. L. 99–339, title I, §§ 102, 103, June 19, 1986, 100 Stat. 647, 648; Pub. L. 104–182, title I, §§ 113(a), 114(a), Aug. 6, 1996, 110 Stat. 1634, 1636; Pub. L. 107–188, title IV, § 403(1), June 12, 2002, 116 Stat. 687; Pub. L. 114–322, title II, § 2106(a), Dec. 16, 2016, 130 Stat. 1722; Pub. L. 115–270, title II, §§ 2008–2010(a), 2011, Oct. 23, 2018, 132 Stat. 3846, 3847, 3849.)
cite as: 42 USC 300g-3