AWWA chief comments on 30th anniversary of SDWA

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DENVER, Dec. 15, 2004 -- Dec. 16 marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Signed into law in 1974, the SDWA set national regulations to limit drinking water contaminants and established monitoring, reporting, public notification, and source water assessment requirements for thousands of water systems across the country. Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), issued the following statement to mark this milestone anniversary.

"Thirty years ago, the Safe Drinking Water Act was established to protect and enhance the quality of drinking water in the United States. The best testimony to the success of the Safe Drinking Water Act is that Americans can drink from virtually any public water supply with an extraordinarily high degree of confidence that the water is safe. In a world where thousands of people die each day from waterborne diseases, this is a public health achievement we should never take for granted.

"Today, we can proudly say that more than 90% of water systems in the United States provide water that meets all of EPA's stringent standards. This kind of accomplishment would not be possible were it not for the partnership forged among water professionals and federal and state regulators. This spirit of cooperation and dedication to public health preceded the Safe Drinking Water Act and remains critical to the ongoing development and implementation of the act.

"While the Safe Drinking Water Act has been largely successful, the water community faces new challenges today. The security of our water has become a dominant concern in the post-911 era. Drought conditions and population shifts have increased interest in promising new technologies like desalination and water reuse. And, as health effects research has evolved and testing methods have improved, water professionals are working to reduce exposure to more substances than ever before.

"No one knows what next the 30 years will bring, but we do know the Safe Drinking Water Act will have to adapt to new circumstances. The partnership among federal and state regulators and water suppliers will be tested as regulations grow in complexity and new substances are considered for regulation. The continued success of SDWA depends on the ability of the entire water community to work together toward our common goal of protecting public health."

AWWA is a Denver-based association that represents municipal water and wastewater services providers as an authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of drinking water in North America and beyond. It's the largest organization of water professionals in the world. AWWA advances public health, safety and welfare by uniting the efforts of the full spectrum of the drinking water community.

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