[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 146 (Thursday, July 30, 1998)]
[Page 40709]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-20414]

[[Page 40709]]




Review of Monitoring Requirements for Chemical Contaminants in 
Drinking Water

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency.

ACTION: Notice of review of monitoring requirements.


SUMMARY: Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), as amended in 1996, 
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is, by August 6, 1998, and 
after consultation with public health experts, representatives of the 
general public, and officials of State and local governments, to review 
the monitoring requirements for not fewer than twelve contaminants, and 
promulgate any necessary modifications. EPA has, with the assistance of 
a number of States and in consultation with the public and others, 
conducted an extensive review of monitoring requirements for 64 
contaminants as part of its chemical monitoring revisions (CMR) effort. 
EPA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) (62 FR 
36100, July 3, 1997) that described a number of possible changes to the 
current monitoring requirements for these chemicals and solicited 
public input. The Agency received considerable new data in response, 
and, on initial review, these data do not appear to simply confirm and 
provide additional support for the revisions discussed in the ANPRM. 
EPA is completing its analysis of these new data, and at this time has 
not identified any necessary revisions to the monitoring requirements 
for twelve of the chemical contaminants. Before publishing this 
document the Agency consulted with numerous stakeholders representing 
state public health and environmental departments, drinking water 
utilities, environmental organizations, and public health service 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the activities 
related to this document, contact: Ed Thomas, U.S. EPA at (202) 260-
0910 or E-mail to [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: EPA first regulated chemicals in drinking 
water in 1975 by establishing maximum contaminant levels and sampling 
requirements for fifteen contaminants. Thereafter, EPA revised the 
standards for these chemicals and established new standards for other 
chemicals in a series of drinking water regulations in 1987, 1991 and 
1992. In the course of developing these regulations, EPA established a 
Standard Monitoring Framework that was intended to provide a uniform 
structure for monitoring requirements for current and subsequent 
drinking water regulations; the Framework is currently in effect. 
Because of concerns expressed that the Framework was too prescriptive 
in some areas and too complex, EPA and a number of States began to 
discuss ways to reduce unnecessary monitoring requirements and to use 
chemical monitoring resources more efficiently. This activity was 
referred to as Chemical Monitoring Reform. During this effort, EPA also 
sought input from outside organizations through public forums. EPA 
gathered one of the largest collections of sampling data then 
available, representing thousands of public water systems. In addition, 
several States volunteered compilations of their sampling results for 
organic chemicals. While recognizing the shortcomings of these data 
(which include the fact that they may not be representative of the 
nation), EPA believed that the data indicated that relatively few 
systems are contaminated and therefore revisions to the Standard 
Monitoring Framework should be considered.
    CMR was based on six concepts: (1) some systems are not sampling at 
the appropriate time of year or with sufficient frequency to detect 
significant levels of contamination; (2) the percentage of systems that 
are contaminated is very low; (3) public resources should be focused 
more on the systems that are contaminated or at risk of contamination; 
(4) because of their first hand knowledge, States are best able to 
determine which systems are at risk of contamination and when sampling 
is most likely to detect contamination; (5) source water protection 
measures should be expanded; and (6) current monitoring requirements 
should be streamlined. Thus under the CMR approach, monitoring 
requirements would be consolidated, ``at risk'' systems would be 
targeted for increased sampling, and sampling would occur when systems 
were most vulnerable to contamination. The objective was to both 
strengthen public health protection and reduce unnecessary monitoring.
    While EPA was developing the CMR approach, Congress enacted the 
1996 amendments to the SDWA. These amendments reflected a number of the 
issues being addressed in the CMR, and in particular, source water 
protection. The amendments authorized States with a Source Water 
Assessment Program approved by EPA to tailor monitoring requirements 
for public water systems that had completed their source water 
assessment under the State program. Prior to these amendments, the CMR 
was envisioned as a free standing initiative for monitoring revision 
and burden reduction. In response to the statutory changes, EPA 
proceeded with separate but related activities: Development of 
Alternative Monitoring Guidelines associated with source water 
protection (which were published on August 5, 1997) and the CMR.
    In July 1997, EPA provided public notice of its plan to propose a 
revision of the monitoring requirements based on the CMR. In the ANPRM, 
EPA described in detail the sampling data it had gathered as well as 
data from a number of States and other sources, and the possible 
changes to the current requirements. The Agency sought public comment 
on the CMR approach and, recognizing that the data used to develop the 
new approach for monitoring were limited in scope, solicited additional 
sampling data.
    In response to the ANPRM, commenters identified 17 potential data 
sources. EPA has completed an initial review of these data sets and 
presented a summary of that review at a stakeholders meeting on April 
6, 1998 in Washington, D.C. On the basis of its initial review and 
consultation with stakeholders representing state drinking water 
departments, health advisory departments, water utilities, 
environmental organizations, and public health representatives, EPA is 
not able to say that the new data are simply supplementary data that 
support and confirm the possible changes to the monitoring requirements 
set forth in the ANPRM. For that reason, EPA believes it is 
inappropriate to proceed with the ANPRM until it has completed its 
analysis of the new data. Stakeholders at the April 6 meeting agreed 
with this approach.
    Thus, EPA has completed an extensive review of the current 
monitoring requirements for 64 chemical contaminants in drinking water 
which covers the 12 contaminants referred to in section 1445(a)(1)(D). 
At this time, EPA has not identified any necessary modifications to 
those monitoring requirements for twelve contaminants.
J. Charles Fox,
Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Water.
[FR Doc. 98-20414 Filed 7-29-98; 8:45 am]