Fighting Groundwater Contamination:
State Activities to Date and the Need for More Information From EPA
T-PEMD-88-7: Published: May 17, 1988. Publicly Released: May 17, 1988.
GAO discussed states' efforts to protect groundwater resources and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to help states establish technical standards for groundwater protection. GAO questioned 50 states and 7 territories and found that: (1) most states indicated that underground storage tanks were a significant source of water contamination; (2) 22 of 57 respondents had groundwater protection plans, while 33 had not developed sufficient groundwater standards; (3) few respondents had numeric standards specifying quantitative levels of allowable contaminants, while 38 respondents had narrative standards; and (4) states and territories with numeric standards relied primarily on federal drinking water standards because they lacked procedures for establishing their own standards. GAO also found that EPA: (1) had inadequate information on contaminants and did not provide any information specific to groundwater contaminants; and (2) awarded about $14 million in grants to states in fiscal years 1985 and 1986 to assist them in designing and implementing groundwater protection programs. GAO believes that EPA should establish a criteria document program specifically for groundwater contaminants.