Date of this Version
Author's note: This publication was written in the months immediately prior to the beginning of the 104th Congress in January, 1995. While the basic issues have not changed, the schedule for reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the approach to issues may have been altered by the change in political-party leadership in the Congress. For example, contamination standards for drinking water may become a part of general "risk-assessment" legislation in 1995.
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), P.L. 93-523. Its purpose was to protect the nation's drinking water from harmful biological and chemical contaminants. The act also addressed groundwater protection, specifically providing for controls on the underground injection of wastes, e.g., from oil-drilling, that might contaminate water supplies.
Under the act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was given responsibility for establishing quality standards and treatment requirements for drinking water. States were asked to implement national standards and enforce compliance.