The online RCAP Resources Library has a variety of resources that are useful to small, rural drinking water and wastewater systems.

Consumer Confidence Reports

The eBulletin is back!

The eBulletin has returned! The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), through the Safe Drinking Water Trust, had brought you useful security- and management-related information for your drinking water or wastewater system every three weeks.

In this new year, we are making some changes to the eBulletin. The same people at RCAP who had provided advice and shared their knowledge with you will still produce a regular email, but now it will arrive in your inbox monthly. Water system operators, managers, board members and other community leaders will continue to receive information from RCAP’s experts on effective ways to operate and manage their systems. We will be delivering it to you in a more focused way with a shorter main article that offers some practical ways to improve your system.

Another thing we are wanting to change is the name of this newsletter, and we are asking for your help. See the announcement after the main article for information about how you can submit your idea. A prize will go to the winning entry.

As always, we welcome your feedback on this newsletter. What is useful? What is not? What areas would you like to see addressed? What are you having trouble with? Please be in touch with us.

This month’s main article:

Do you have confidence in the services you provide? Do your customers? (Consumer Confidence Reports)

How do you view the requirement for all community water systems to create and deliver a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to all of their customers every year? Is it a burden, a vital public service, or just another regulatory requirement?

While this regulatory requirement will not be going away anytime soon, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has included it as one of its rules now under “retrospective review.” This means that EPA is looking for opportunities to improve the effectiveness of how a CCR’s important information is delivered to the public. At the same time, input also is being sought on ways to lower the burdens placed on water utilities in delivering this report to customers.

The CCR was mandated by the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act and was required to be delivered to each water utility customer starting in 1999. From the beginning, there has been a debate over whether customers actually read and understood these reports, whether the cost of preparing and mailing these reports was excessive, and whether the information presented provided a complete review of drinking water quality.

RCAP’s Technical Assistance Providers have helped many utilities prepare these reports, and now most systems are able to routinely complete the CCR each year. Many systems across the country look upon the CCR as an important way to inform their customers about the high-quality water that is being produced and delivered across their service area. While it is a requirement, why not also look at it as an opportunity to raise awareness of your utility’s accomplishments?

So far, some of the most common comments already received by EPA regarding potential changes to the CCR rule include:

  • Electronic delivery methods would reduce costs for small systems.
  • State certification is a burden for primacy agencies.
  • Tier 3 public notifications should be allowed in the CCR beyond the current 12- month time limitation.
  • Use of whole numbers is burdensome on small utilities and can mislead the public. Currently MCLs for contaminants, which are typically calculated based on mg/L, are to be expressed (once converted) as a number equal to or greater than 1.0.

In 2012, EPA will be conducting market research, pilot studies and survey analysis to determine alternative delivery approaches that would be compatible with the current rule. While the result may be that delivery of the CCR by the U.S. Postal Service is not an absolute requirement, there is considerable discussion over what actually constitutes delivery of the report and whether various forms of electronic communications would satisfy the delivery requirement. For instance, would posting the results on your website be sufficient, or would separate emails to each customer be required?

In order to receive the widest possible input from stakeholders, EPA will be holding a “listening session” on February 23, 2012, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. Additional information about this session

We encourage you to consider your experiences preparing and delivering your CCR and join this online session.

Additional information on the CCR

Find contact information for one of the RCAP staff members in your state

Rename this newsletter

Later this year, the eBulletin will get a new look, which deserves a new name. We are asking you, the readers, to submit your ideas. Each subscriber to this newsletter may submit one name. Submit your entry. Include your first and last name and your location in your email. The contest will continue through the March issue of this newsletter, and the new name will be announced in the April issue. The winning name will be chosen based on its relevance to the purpose of this newsletter and RCAP’s mission. The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to an online retailer.

Submit your entry