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.

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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.

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