STATE

Illinois EPA Issues Annual Compliance Report for State’s Public Drinking Water Supplies

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Illinois public water supplies consistently met all state and federal health requirements during calendar year 2011.  This is the conclusion from information recently provided to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the Illinois EPA in its Annual Compliance Report for Public Drinking Water Supplies.

This means that when more than 12 million persons in Illinois turned the tap for water for drinking, cooking or bathing, they received drinking water that met all established health limits for state and federal regulated contaminants.

“The Illinois EPA’s goal is for every public water supply system to provide water that is consistently safe to drink,” said Illinois EPA Interim Director John Kim.  “This report shows that we continue to make progress toward that goal.”

The Report, prepared as required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, reflects a significant improvement in compliance since 1995, when publication of annual compliance reports was first required from all states by U.S. EPA.  The data show that 96.6 percent of those served by Illinois community water supplies in calendar year 2011 received drinking water that met all health requirements.

In Illinois, water suppliers providing drinking water to consumers are regulated either as community or non-community water supplies, based chiefly on the number of users they serve. 

Community water supplies are regulated by the Illinois EPA.  During 2011, there were 5720 public water supplies in the state; 1755 of them were defined as community water supplies under Illinois EPA regulation. Illinois community water supplies serve 12,225,724 persons.

Non-community water supplies are regulated by the Illinois Department of Public Health. These typically include campgrounds and highway rest stops, as well as some day care centers, schools and factories.  Non-community water supplies serve 473,076 persons.

U.S. EPA and the states evaluate compliance on the basis of both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) health requirements; the standards differ for the two categories.  The latest Illinois EPA figures show that 99.9 percent of the population was served by community water supplies that met all acute standards, and 96.9 percent received water that was in compliance with chronic requirements. 

Standards for acute requirements are typically stricter than chronic standards.  For most contaminants, chronic (long-term) standards are based on projected health risks from daily consumption of large amounts (approximately two liters) of water on a daily basis over an extended period of time, e.g., a 70 year lifetime.

In most cases, when contaminant levels exceed maximum allowable limits, treatment is required to be installed in the shortest amount of time taking into consideration the health effects (acute vs. chronic), cost and size of the project.  When a potential health risk is present, the public water system is required to promptly notify its consumers.

All of the public water supplies that had violations during 2011 have either returned to compliance, entered into an enforceable agreement and schedule to take whatever steps are needed to return to compliance, or are in the formal enforcement process involving the office of the Illinois Attorney General or the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  Enforcement cases involving the office of the Illinois Attorney General can result in monetary penalties as well as the water supply being required to achieve compliance with the regulations.

Copies of the summary or complete annual water system compliance reports can be obtained by contacting the Illinois EPA’s Division of Public Water Supplies, #13, P.O. Box 19276, Springfield, IL 62794-9276, (phone) 217-785-8653, or on the Agency’s website at  HYPERLINK "http://www.epa.state.il.us/water/compliance/drinking-water/compliance-report/index.html" http://www.epa.state.il.us/water/compliance/drinking-water/compliance-report/index.html