EPA Water Quality Regulations

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    Drinking Water

    • Any source of public drinking water is regulated by the EPA. A drinking source is public according to the EPA if it serves at least 25 people for at least 60 days per year, or if the system has at least 15 service connections. Public drinking water must meet minimum contaminant levels (MCL) for biological agents, cleaning agents and other chemical contaminants. See Resources for a list of MCLs published by the EPA.


    • The EPA requires states and tribes to designate whether or not bodies of water are safe for recreational use by the public. According to EPA regulations, there are two types of recreational contact. Primary recreational contact includes any contact where humans are directly in the water, such as swimming. Secondary contact includes recreation on the surface of the water, such as boating, but not with people directly in it.

    Endangered Species

    • In addition to the concerns of human health and safety, plants and wildlife must also be considered in EPA regulations. When the EPA develops regulations for pollution levels, The Endangered Species Act requires that they consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that the continued existence of endangered species is not hindered.

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