Reporting, Forms and Instructions: Public Notification
Your system is required to alert consumers to potential health risks from violations of drinking water standards or other situations and to tell them how to avoid or minimize these risks.
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Each violation is assigned to one of three levels or tiers of severity. The type of tier violation will determine the deadline and scope of distribution its public notice will receive.
Tier 1 - Notify within 24 hours. Any time a situation occurs where there is the potential for human health to be immediately impacted, water suppliers have 24 hours to notify people who may drink the water of the situation. Water suppliers must use media outlets such as television, radio, and newspapers, post their notice in public places, or personally deliver a notice to their customers in these situations.
Tier 1 violations are:
- E. coli MCL violations; failure to test for E. coli
- Nitrate/Nitrite MCL violation; failure to take confirmation
- Chorine Dioxide MRDL violation; failure to take repeat
- Exceedance of maximum turbidity level, where State determines Tier 1 is required
- Nitrate exceedances for NCWS allowed to exceed standard
- Waterborne disease outbreak or other waterborne emergency
- Other situations determined by the primacy agency
Tier 2 - Notify as soon as possible, but within 30 days of the violation. Any time a water system provides water with levels of a contaminant that exceed EPA or state standards or that hasn't been treated properly, but that doesn't pose an immediate risk to human health, the water system must notify its customers as soon as possible, but within 30 days of the violation. Notice may be provided via the media, posting, or through the mail.
Tier 2 violations are:
- All other MCL, MRDL, and TT violations that are not Tier 1
- Monitoring and testing procedure violations, where State requires a Tier 2 (rather than Tier 3) notice
- Failure to comply with variance and exemption (V&E) conditions
Tier 3 - Notify within one year of the violation. When water systems violate a drinking water standard that does not have a direct impact on human health (for example, failing to take a required sample on time) the water supplier has up to one year to provide a notice of this situation to its customers. The extra time gives water suppliers the opportunity to consolidate these notices and send them with annual water quality reports (consumer confidence reports).
Tier 3 violations are:
- All other monitoring or testing procedure violations not already requiring a tier 1 or tier 2 notice
- Operation under a Variance or Exemption
- Special public notices:
- Exceedance of Fluoride SMCL
- Announcing the availability of unregulated monitoring results
- Describe the violation or situation.
- State when the violation or situation occurred.
- Describe potential health effects.
- Identify population at risk, (type, part or all of system).
- Indicate whether alternate water supplies should be used.
- State what actions consumers should take.
- Describe what is being done to correct the violation or situation.
- Indicate when the system will resolve the violation or situation.
- Provide name, number, and business address for more information.
- Include the standard distribution wording.
- Determine the tier your violation falls into.
- Consult your primacy agency, where required.
- Review the notice requirements for notice tier.
- Determine the appropriate methods of delivery.
- Develop a draft notice, using the templates.
- Translate the notice, where there is a significant non-English speaking segment of the population served.
- Provide the notice to people served.
- Send a copy, with certification, to EPA Region 8.
You must issue a Boil Water Advisory when an acute total coliform or E-coli violation occurs. You can use the Drinking Water E. Coli Contamination Boil Advisory Template as a guide when preparing a boil water advisory. The same template is also available in MS Word format.
Additional information about the Public Notification Rule can be found on EPA's Public Notification Rule webpage.
The Revised Public Notification Handbook provides detailed information about public notification requirements and provides templates that you can use to prepare a Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 public notice. A link to the Revised Public Notification Handbook can be found on the Public Notification Rule Compliance Help for Water System Owners and Operators webpage.
Various Public Notification Templates (in MS Word format) can be found on the Public Notification Templates for Community and Non-transient Non-community Water Systems webpage.