Drinking Water Requirements for States and Public Water Systems

Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) Grant Program

Since 1976 EPA has annually received a Congressional appropriation under section 1443(a) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to assist states, territories, and tribes in carrying out their Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) programs.

Entities that have been delegated primary enforcement responsibility (primacy) by EPA for the PWSS program are eligible to receive grants.  This includes:

  • State drinking water program agencies in the 50 states
  • The District of Columbia
  • The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
  • The Northern Mariana Islands
  • The Virgin Islands
  • Guam
  • American Samoa
  • Indian tribes treated as a state

Currently, all states and territories have primacy, with the exception of Wyoming and the District of Columbia (neither of which has sought delegation). The Navajo Nation is the only Indian tribe to have sought and received primacy for the PWSS program. Funds allotted for a state, territory, or Indian tribe that does not have an approved primacy program are used by EPA for the operation of a program in that jurisdiction.

Grants help eligible states, territories, and tribes develop and implement a PWSS program adequate to enforce the requirements of the SDWA and ensure that water systems comply with the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. 

Key activities carried out under a PWSS program include:

  • developing and maintaining state drinking water regulations;
  • developing and maintaining an inventory of public water systems throughout the state;
  • developing and maintaining a database to hold compliance information on public water systems;
  • conducting sanitary surveys of public water systems;
  • reviewing public water system plans and specifications;
  • providing technical assistance to managers and operators of public water systems;
  • carrying out a program to ensure that the public water systems regularly inform their consumers about the quality of the water that they are providing;
  • certifying laboratories that can perform the analysis of drinking water that will be used to determine compliance with the regulations; and
  • carrying out an enforcement program to ensure that the public water systems comply with all of the state’s requirements.