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Ground Water and Drinking Water

Drinking Water Action Plan: Priority Area 4

Take Action to Address Unregulated Contaminants


To provide the opportunity for creative new approaches to prioritize regulatory actions, better leverage non-regulatory tools, protect sources of drinking water, address drinking water system vulnerabilities and promote affordable treatment technologies that address a range of contaminants.


  • The past few years have underscored the vulnerability of drinking water systems across the country to localized contamination from unregulated contaminants, ranging from algal toxins related to harmful algal blooms, to industrial chemicals such as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).
  • EPA, state primacy agencies and utilities must be prepared to address potential contaminants in the context of the time consuming process of the SDWA regulatory approach.

Proposed Actions

  • Through the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC), identify a risk-based prioritization framework for consideration of new contaminants for regulation.
  • Strengthen the effectiveness of drinking water health advisories through enhanced collaboration and an increased focus on risk management and risk communication approaches.
  • Develop a guidance framework to help utilities and primacy agency and local regulatory officials in proactively assessing and managing risks to individual systems from unregulated contaminants.
  • Enhance available tools and information for quantitative assessment of the comparative costs of source water protection and advanced drinking water treatment technologies that can address a broad spectrum of regulated and unregulated contaminants.
  • Promote the development of low cost and innovative technologies to remove a broad spectrum of contaminants, particularly in small systems.

Back to Drinking Water Action Plan