WSSC Monitoring for and Reporting on “Unregulated Contaminants”
Part of Nationwide EPA Process to Gather Data
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Laurel – September 3, 2013: Every five years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to make a list of contaminants suspected to be present in drinking water and collect data on their occurrence in drinking water. Utilities must monitor quarterly for a period of one year and report which of the listed chemicals are detected in their systems and at what levels. The EPA then uses this data and other health information to determine if there is a potential health risk and whether any of these chemicals should be regulated in drinking water.
It’s a national effort called the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) program. This is the third round of data collection since 1999 and is known as UCMR3. WSSC and approximately 6,000 other water utilities are sampling for up to 28 chemicals which are currently not regulated.
The EPA requires utilities to report any contaminants detected from UCMR3 monitoring in their annual water quality reports. WSSC’s water quality report must be available to the public by June 30 of each year for the previous year’s monitoring. However, recent Maryland legislation requires WSSC to also report any contaminants detected from the quarterly sampling to the public and the county executives of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties within 30-days of receiving the results.
EPA required that sampling by WSSC begin in July 2013. While the Maryland law requiring reporting of contaminants detected does not take effect until October 1, WSSC is voluntarily reporting first round results. Five of the 28 chemicals were detected, and all detections were at very low levels. It is important to remember that detection of a chemical in drinking water does not mean it is harmful. The EPA will make that determination in the future based on UCMR3 data and available health effects information.
Background on the UCMR3 program, a list of the chemicals monitored, quarterly results, further information on the chemicals detected, and frequently asked questions are posted on our website.
For 100 years, WSSC has proudly served the citizens of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties – providing drinking water that has always met strict Safe Drinking Water Act standards and protecting the environment through vital water resource recovery services. Our vision is to be THE world-class water utility, where excellent products and services are always on tap.