Safe Drinking Water Act Fee Program
The Safe Drinking Water Act Fee was established by the General Assembly in 1993 so that public water systems in the state could more easily comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Annual fees paid by each public water system in the state are deposited into the Drinking Water Trust Fund and are used solely for the purpose of implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in the state. The monies from the fund are used to provide required compliance inspections, compliance assistance, enforcement, permitting, monitoring, and laboratory services for public water systems in the state.
Since 1993, the Safe Drinking Water Act Fee schedule has been revised several times as costs for implementing federal regulations have risen or gone down. In most instances, new federal regulations have resulted in increased implementation costs to the Department. The last fee schedule adjustment was in 2003. Since 2003, the United State Environmental Protection Agency has passed 6 new federal drinking water regulations. The Department has been able to absorb most of these new regulations by increasing efficiency of current operations. However, the last of these, the Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts Rule will be extremely costly, and the Safe Drinking Water Trust will not have enough funds available to cover implementation costs.
Disinfection byproducts have been identified as probable human carcinogens and are formed when a disinfectant, such as chlorine, is added to water containing naturally occurring organic material. The Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts Rule go into effect beginning in 2012 and will require almost 3000 pairs of disinfection byproduct samples to be collected and analyzed statewide (currently only about 1250 are required). This will result in an increased cost to the program of approximately $650,000 to $700,000 to pay for collection, processing and analyzing of these samples.
To decide how best to implement this new regulation, the Department organized a stakeholder committee and made numerous public presentations to get feedback from the regulated community. The overwhelming response was that the public water systems in the state would prefer to pay a fee increase instead of having to conduct this monitoring themselves.
Therefore, the Department proposed a Safe Drinking Water Act Fee increase to offset costs associated with the implementation of the Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts Rule. The Department Board approved the revision and it has been submitted to the General Assembly for review.