Groundwater Quality:

State Activities To Guard Against Contaminants

PEMD-88-5: Published: Feb 2, 1988. Publicly Released: Feb 2, 1988.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed state groundwater standards activities, focusing on how states: (1) established groundwater standards; (2) set groundwater standards for specific contaminants; (3) used different standards; and (4) developed and implemented their standards.

GAO found that: (1) 41 states have numeric or narrative groundwater standards or both, while 15 states have only narrative standards; (2) states relied on federal drinking water standards for 62 percent of their numeric standards; and (3) states with additional numeric standards covered an average of 20 contaminants beyond the 34 contaminants on the federal list. GAO also found that state standards differed because: (1) background levels of contaminants were higher in some states; (2) some old standards were not updated; and (3) some states questioned the appropriateness of certain specific federal standards. In addition, GAO found that: (1) states with advanced standard-setting procedures relied on detection of contaminants before deciding to set a standard; (2) many states were constrained by inadequate technical expertise and funding; and (3) states generally used groundwater standards to issue and monitor permits.

Sep 23, 2020

Aug 6, 2020

Aug 5, 2020

Jul 23, 2020

Jul 14, 2020

Jun 25, 2020

May 29, 2020

May 5, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here