Public Right to Know

pitcher of water. photo: successo images / shutterstock.com

The first step in protecting our environment, our health, and our safety is knowing what we are being exposed to. Promoting the public’s “right to know” is central to Clean Water Action’s mission. That is why we fought so hard to make sure that the 1996 reauthorization of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires public water systems to report annually to their customers on whether the water they are providing meets all national and state legal drinking water standards, what regulated contaminants were found in the water the year previously, and other basic information about where the water comes from and potential health implications.

If you are the customer of a public water system -- meaning you pay your water bill directly to the provider -- you receive something called a Consumer Confidence Report (also called a Water Quality Report) each year, no later than July. If you are a renter, live in a condominium, mobile home park or under other circumstances where someone else pays the bill, you may not receive the report automatically. However, you still have the right to the information. You can access it in a number of ways:

  • Ask your landlord, residents’ association, or other entity that pays the water bill to the provider for a copy.
  • Check out your local water provider’s website. They usually post the reports there.
  • Call the water provider and request that a copy be mailed to you.

Special note: while many large water agencies offer translations of their CCRs in the most commonly spoken languages in the community, translations are not required by the state or federal governments. Instead, they require a one-line notification in any languages spoken by more than 10% or 10,000 ratepayers, whichever is lowest, explaining that the document contains important water quality information for which they should seek translation assistance.

Have questions?

 

The US EPA has established rules about the format and information in Consumer Confidence Reports to ensure they are understandable and provide comprehensive water quality information. However, if you have any questions about your report, the implications of what was detected in your water, or just need help reading it, Clean Water Action is pleased to help.

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