Drinking Water:

Key Quality Assurance Program Is Flawed and Underfunded

T-RCED-93-31: Published: Apr 19, 1993. Publicly Released: Apr 19, 1993.

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GAO discussed its report on state sanitary survey programs, focusing on: (1) whether state sanitary surveys are comprehensive enough to determine if public water systems are capable of providing good-quality drinking water; and (2) what the survey results reveal about the operation and condition of water systems nationwide. GAO noted that: (1) many states did not adequately conduct, document, or interpret sanitary survey results; (2) 45 states did not evaluate one or more of the 14 major components that the Environmental Protection Agency recommended for evaluation; (3) state documentation of survey results is needed so that state officials can assess survey adequacy and inspectors can follow up on detected problems; (4) the most frequent deficiency cited in state surveys was inadequate cross-connection control programs; (5) most public water systems appeared safe, but many systems had deficiencies that could affect the quality of drinking water; (6) many state surveys revealed recurring problems with equipment maintenance and records, deficiencies in water systems' maintenance and operations, and inadequate protection of water sources; and (7) the acute funding shortage in the drinking water program is a major contributor to the problems affecting state sanitary survey programs.

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