• Deadlines for drinking water regulations are being pushed back for a variety of reasons.

    Credit: Elena Elisseeva | Dreamstime.com

    Deadlines for drinking water regulations are being pushed back for a variety of reasons.

New contaminants unlikely in 2013

The same dynamics apply to other standards that are in, or likely to enter, the agency’s rulemaking pipeline this year.

The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to review each National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) at least once every six years. In June 2010 the second Six-Year Review identified four of 71 regulations as candidates for revision: acrylamide, epichlorohydrin, tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and trichloroethylene (TCE).

The agency hasn’t moved forward on any and, when it does, industry is likely to fight every step of the way. For example, a baseline draft risk assessment of TCE published in January 2013 by EPA’s Office of Toxic Substances provoked heavy fire from the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance.

EPA is supposed to publish a preliminary third Six-Year Review list soon. Based on the previous two reviews, though, changes to any of the standards designated for 2016 could be a decade off. For example, total coliform was targeted in the first review in 2004 but the final revision wasn’t published until February 2013. It goes into effect April 1, 2016.

The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to consider at least five unregulated contaminants every five years. This is the first step in the agency’s process for deciding what to regulate and how. Equally invisible is any action on the Third Regulatory Determination.

Oddsmakers expect the agency to make positive determinations for three contaminants — chlorate, nitrosamines, and strontium — identified in the Second Regulatory Determination released in July 2008. Under the statutory deadline, a preliminary third list should be published this year. But that’s unlikely to happen.

Stephen Barlas is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer.


Status update: EPA drinking water regulations

Establishing a perchlorate standard

Scheduled notice of proposed rulemaking: Feb. 11, 2013
Likely to change? Yes; already delayed
Why: EPA is still developing an enhanced physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model for calculating maximum contaminant level (MCL)
Expected: Agency says end of 2013, but first half 2014 more likely, if then.

Revision of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR)

Scheduled notice of proposed rulemaking: September 2013
Likely to change? Yes
Why: EPA is waiting for the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act’s to go into effect.
Expected: Sometime after Jan. 1, 2014

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations on 16 volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)

Scheduled notice of proposed rulemaking: October 2013
Likely to change? Yes.
Why: Difficulties assessing and categorizing risk.
Expected: Uncertain

Third Regulatory Determination

Scheduled notice of proposed rulemaking: 2013, sometime
Likely to change? Yes
Why: Agency resource reductions, internally and contractor.
Expected: Uncertain