By Marie Owens
Safe, clean drinking water is critical to public health, welfare and safety. Increased understanding of how public water systems work, as well as community involvement and investment in these systems, are important ways to safeguard this valuable resource. The more residents and communities know about their drinking water, the better their providers can secure resources to adequately provide the necessary infrastructure, protection of source waters, system operations, and water storage capacity.
DEQ’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) offers a number of resources to help individuals identify the drinking-water system that services their home, review the system’s annual water quality report, and learn more about how their system works.
“My Drinking Water” Portal
In 2018, DDW developed a new search portal called “My Drinking Water” to help Utah residents locate their public water system quickly and easily. Customers simply enter their street address and zip code, and the search feature takes them to DDW’s WaterLink portal to retrieve the water supplier’s Public Water System information.
The Water Monitoring Report includes:
- The water system contact, including phone number and email
- The system location
- Last surveyor update (i.e., the date the system was last inspected)
- Approved: The system is generally in compliance with all Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
- Not Approved: The system has infrastructure, water quality, or monitoring violations that need to be addressed. There is no formal signed plan between the system and DDW to come into compliance.
- Corrective Action: the system has an agreed-upon plan to come back into compliance.
Customers can also find the following additional information in the Water System Reports located in the upper right portion on the web page:
- Bacterial sampling results (Bacterial Summary)
- Inspection reports that include system violations for monitoring or water quality (IPS)
Consumer Confidence Report (CCR)
Every public water system provides its customers with an annual water-quality report called the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). Water systems serving year-round residents are required to deliver the CCR to their customers by July 1st of each year.
The CCR provides a variety of important information about each community water system, including:
- Water system information (e.g., the name and phone number of the contact person)
- Information on opportunities for public participation
- Source(s) of drinking water
- Any monitored contaminants detected in the drinking water during the past five years of sampling
- Information on monitoring for Cryptosporidium, radon, and other contaminants, if detected
- Compliance with state and federal drinking water standards, explanation of violations, potential health effects, and corrective actions
- Variances or exemptions to a maximum contaminant level (MCL) or treatment technique
- Required additional information, such as explanations of contaminants in drinking water and educational information on nitrate, arsenic, or lead in areas where they may be contaminants of concern.
Customers generally receive their CCR with their water bill. Residents who would like to review their CCR can contact their water provider using the phone number on their water bill or visit their city’s public works/public utility website and search for “annual water quality report.” Renters can contact their building manager or visit the water system website. EPA’s Safe Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791) also offers information for locating local water companies and CCRs.
Many people don’t realize that public water systems offer regular opportunities for citizens to participate in decisionmaking for their community’s drinking water.
Water Testing at Individual Residences
People can become concerned about the quality of their drinking water if their home has older plumbing or if a family member is immuno-compromised or sensitive to contaminants. In those instances, in-home testing is a good way to identify issues with drinking water inside the house. Residents have several options if they want to test their homes.
Water systems sometimes offer free testing for customers with concerns about the quality of the drinking water in their house. Residents can call their water system using the phone number on their most recent water bill to see if testing services are available.
State Certified Labs
Homeowners can test their water themselves using a state-certified lab for sample analysis. DDW provides a list of certified labs, their location, and the substances they analyze. Labs charge for this work and fees vary based on the tests ordered. Residents can call the lab to request bottles, get instructions on how to collect samples, and when to return samples to the lab.
Some residents may choose to add home treatment systems to improve taste or protect vulnerable members of a household. Point-of-use (POU) systems treat water at a single tap and point-of entry (POE) systems treat water throughout the house. POU and POE devices use different contaminant removal technologies and may have treatment limitations. We work hard so that you can trust the water directly from your tap throughout the state but if you decide you need a home treatment unit, please keep in mind that you are now taking on the responsibility for the quality of the drinking water within your own home and these units need to be carefully installed, operated and continuously maintained.
Drinking Water Protection: A Shared Responsibility
One of the best ways for people to protect their drinking water is to be involved and informed about activities that could compromise its safety. EPA has the following suggestions for greater citizen involvement:
- Attend public hearings on new construction, stormwater permitting, and town planning.
- Ask questions about any issue that may affect a drinking-water source.
- Participate with local government and water systems as they make funding decisions.
- Volunteer or help recruit volunteers to participate in community contaminant monitoring activities.
- Help ensure that local utilities that protect drinking water have adequate resources to do their job.
For more information on how DDW works to ensure the safety of Utah’s drinking water, visit the Division of Drinking Water home page. Check your water bill this month for the yearly Consumer Confidence Report from your water system. You can also find your report on DDW’s WaterLink database. Go to waterlink.utah.gov and select the Public Portal in the upper right corner, select “Consumer Confidence Report” and search for your CCR by county/water system and year. WaterLink will generate a complete data report for you on your selected water system.
I became the Director of Drinking Water in January 2017. I attended Utah State University, where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering. During that time, I worked at the Water Research Laboratory in Logan, which led to an internship with the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy, which led to an offer to work fulltime for Metro as a Process Engineer. From there, I moved to the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District as their Water Quality Division Manager. It was at Jordan Valley that realized how much I love working with people and mentoring new professionals. I love everything about water and love interacting with the people who share this passion.