The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to revise the 1989 Total Coliform Rule to incorporate improvements recommended by a federal advisory committee that consisted of representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups, including public health and public interest groups, environmental groups, state drinking water agencies and drinking water utilities. EPA and its stakeholders used a transparent, collaborative process to help make this regulation more effective.
Water utilities are required to regularly monitor for microbial contamination in the distribution system. Although microbes detected in monitoring are not necessarily pathogens themselves, the detection can indicate that there is a pathway that would allow pathogens to enter the system, such as a water main break or an opening in a storage tank. The revised rule will better protect people from potential exposure to dangerous microbes by requiring water systems to take action when monitoring results indicate that contamination or a pathway to contamination may be present. Under the proposed rule, when monitoring results are positive, systems must find and fix any pathways leading to microbial risk.
EPA is seeking public comment on this proposed rule for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.