Resources Expended by EPA When Assuming Drinking Water Enforcement Responsibilities in Seven States

CED-79-19: Published: Aug 8, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 1979.

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Legislation provides for States to assume primary enforcement responsibility, or primacy, for monitoring the public water supply systems within their boundaries. Since most States' water supply programs contain requirements similar to the 15 in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) implementation regulations, meeting the EPA requirements was not considered a problem. However, for some requirements, States had to enact legislation and adopt new regulations. To aid States in developing and implementing primacy programs, EPA is authorized to award grants to supplement existing State funding. The grants are not to exceed 75 percent of the States' total program costs. Seven States, District of Columbia, Indiana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, have chosen not to seek primacy for reasons which included lack of guaranteed continued Federal funding, limited State funds and personnel, and inadequate State legislative authority. To implement a minimum primacy program in nonparticipating States, EPA requested an estimate of the number of additional positions needed. The EPA Office of Water Supply advised its regional administrators that it could not satisfy their request for 237 positions but would allocate 28 positions and request the remaining positions from the Office of Management and Budget.

GAO obtained information concerning three EPA program operations for the seven nonparticipating States. The information indicates that, in those States not having primacy, the EPA coverage may be severely limited as a result of resource constraints and may not meet the same standards required by EPA for those States which do assume primacy.

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