Drinking Water:

Safe Drinking Water Act Reauthorization Issues

T-RCED-96-35: Published: Nov 1, 1995. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1995.

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GAO discussed issues surrounding the reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act. GAO noted that: (1) state strategies to help water systems comply with the act include water system operator certification and training, comprehensive water system inspections, sanitary surveys, water source protection, approving of alternative technologies suitable for small water systems, and determining systems' viability and restructuring needs; (2) because of state funding limitations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has helped states prioritize program goals and has given states 5 years to comply with all program requirements; (3) this strategy has forced states to pursue national priorities while curtailing traditional quality assurance activities; (4) EPA has revised its guidance to make more effective use of available funding and has initiated an effort to reevaluate and streamline drinking water regulations; (5) although setting up state revolving funds (SRF) for safe drinking water projects is a more efficient government investment method, it will not close the funding gap; (6) land purchase restrictions, relatively short loan periods, and competition for and repayment of loans make it difficult for smaller communities to participate in the SRF program; and (7) proposed legislation would increase funding for state water systems and eliminate requirements for additional contaminant standards.

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