Our drinking water hasn’t always been as safe to consume as it is today. In fact, before the mid-1970s, it was considered dangerous to drink from any public water fountain and even our own kitchen taps. But, from the year 1974 to the present, the Safe Drinking Water Act, or SDWA, has assisted the United States government in regulating the quality of our public water supply. This piece of legislature has not only provided water filtration facilities with standards to abide by but has also empowered the public to demand the clean water we’re entitled to. This is the importance of the Safe Drinking Ware Act of 1974 and how it has significantly changed the way we view our water to this day.

Drinking Water Before the SDWA

In the early days of the 20th century, there was very little government focus on the overall state of our public drinking water. Water management practices were typically run by individual communities, and even then, their main concerns were focused on treating the water with chemicals. The water filtration technology that we utilize today didn’t exist. So, between the large amounts of contaminants already floating in the water and the chemicals being introduced to sterilize them, our drinking supply became more dangerous than it was before. It wasn’t long before many began to realize that certain diseases were being transferred by our water and the federal government began its first steps to combat the threat.

Though not too much would change in the next several decades, that time was spent learning more about what was actually in our water and where it came from. It was during the time we discovered the correlation between agricultural and industrial runoff and many of the symptoms the public was experiencing. Testing a multitude of different water sources like lake and groundwater also showed that these bodies of water could contain high levels of such synthetic chemicals. From here, it was discovered that public water tested positive for a series of different ailments that were immune to the standard chlorine treatment. After these critical discoveries, it was clear that something needed to be done.

Creating the SDWA

Upon realizing how large of an impact the quality of our water has on our health, the United States government began the process of drawing up the preliminary act. The Environmental Protection Agency was created to oversee all legislature relating to our natural resources and enforce consequences on those for didn’t follow them. The EPA drew up the preliminary requirements for the law which stated that all public water systems must produce water of a certain quality for it to be safe. But, the importance of the Safe Drinking Water Act would ultimately come back to holding businesses who didn’t abide accountable.

What the SDWA Introduced

When the SDWA was finally put into effect, it allowed the EPA to establish official, minimum standards for processed water. Not only did this help to increase the efforts presented by these businesses, but it also would speed up the development of water purification and water filtration technologies. Additionally, this act also gave the EPA the means to file lawsuits against businesses who chose to not abide by the new standards. Those who didn’t meet the basic requirements were subject to fines, legal action, and inevitable shutdown—which increased the overall motivation to make the necessary changes.

The law was also later amended in 1986 and 1996 to require specific actions for dealing with different water sources. This includes all rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells in a given service area. Depending on the source being drawn from, the filtration facility needs to stay within the acceptable range of contaminants and should perform frequent testing for diseases. These amendments also gave the EPA the means to better educate the public on the state of their drinking water. As such, it’s a requirement that they produce annual summary reports detailing the nationwide water standards. In doing so, the public knows what quality of water they’re entitled to and exactly what their water contains.

Current Drinking Water Standards

Today, the SDWA continues to holds filtration plants accountable for maintaining the designated standard of water quality. Each facility much consider all factors that could contaminate their water, such as pesticide runoff and improper waste disposal, and then perform the necessary tests and processing to remove them. This includes adopting additional processes to deal with smaller, microbial contaminants and byproducts from the initial sterilization. Repeated sterilizing, testing, and filtering is key to ensuring that each harmful substance is being removed—no matter where it came from.

The workers of these water plants are also held to a degree of professionalism and experience. In fact, each water system worker needs to obtain a certification from the EPA before they can be approved to work with the public water supply. Their training for this certification goes over the guidelines established by the SDWA and the processes that must be performed to make water drinkable.

The Effectiveness of the SDWA

All these efforts over the past century certainly haven’t been fruitless. With each new thing we learned about our water sources and their contaminants, we’ve gained a better understanding of how our drinking water contributes to the public’s overall health. As a result, not only have we placed a higher importance on keeping our supply clean, but we’ve also been able to advance technology in the best ways to do so. Today, our public drinking water is the cleanest it’s ever been and there’s little need to worry about getting sick. However, it’s still important to remember that despite how much our water processing systems have developed, you can never be too careful. It’s for this reason that individuals should always remain informed on what’s in their water. This way they can take a few additional steps to eliminae these toxins before they take a drink.

At H2O Coolers, we see it as our mission to provide each office and home we service with the highest quality drinking water possible. In alliance with the SWDA, our cooler rentals in New York City have the most precise filters to remove any harmful toxins that may still be in your tap water. We also use water optimization technology to ensure that your water is infused with only the best nutrients to promote your health.

Safe Drinking Water Act