Safe Water From Every Tap

Improving Water Service to Small Communities

Committee on Small Water Supply Systems

Water Science and Technology Board

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1997



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--> Safe Water From Every Tap Improving Water Service to Small Communities Committee on Small Water Supply Systems Water Science and Technology Board Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1997

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--> NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Support for this project was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 96-70443 International Standard Book Number 0-309-05527-X Safe Water From Every Tap: Improving Water Service to Small Communities is available from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055 (1-800-624-6242; http://www.nap.edu). Cover art by Y. David Chung. Chung is a graduate of the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. He has exhibited his work throughout the country, including the Whitney Museum in New York, the Washington Project for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Copyright 1997 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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--> COMMITTEE ON SMALL WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS VERNON L. SNOEYINK, Chair, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign GUNTHER F. CRAUN, Craun and Associates, Staunton, Virginia STEPHEN E. HIMMELL, Consumers Illinois Water Company, Kankakee, Illinois CAROL R. JAMES, C. R. James and Associates, Consulting Engineers, Oakland, California DENNIS D. JURANEK, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Atlanta, Georgia GARY S. LOGSDON, Black & Veatch, Cincinnati, Ohio FREDERICK A. MARROCCO, Department of Environmental Protection, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania JOHN M. MAXWELL, Economic and Engineering Services, Olympia, Washington DANIEL A. OKUN, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill DAVID R. SIBURG, Kitsap Public Utility District, Poulsbo, Washington VELMA M. SMITH, Friends of the Earth, Washington, D.C. AMY K. ZANDER, Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York Liaison from the Water Science and Technology Board CAROLYN H. OLSEN, Brown and Caldwell, Pleasant Hill, California National Research Council Staff JACQUELINE A. MACDONALD, Study Director ETAN Z. GUMMERMAN, Research Associate ANITA A. HALL, Senior Project Assistant DAVID DOBBS, Editor

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--> WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD DAVID L. FREYBERG, Chair, Stanford University, Stanford, California BRUCE E. RITTMANN, Vice Chair, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois LINDA M. ABRIOLA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor PATRICK L. BREZONIK, Water Resources Research Center, St. Paul, Minnesota JOHN BRISCOE, The World Bank, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM M. EICHBAUM, The World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C. WILFORD R. GARDNER, University of California, Berkeley THOMAS M. HELLMAN, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, New York, New York CAROL A. JOHNSTON, University of Minnesota, Duluth WILLIAM M. LEWIS, JR., University of Colorado, Boulder JOHN W. MORRIS, J. W. Morris Ltd., Arlington, Virginia CAROLYN H. OLSEN, Brown and Caldwell, Pleasant Hill, California CHARLES R. O'MELIA, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland REBECCA T. PARKIN, American Public Health Association, Washington, D.C. IGNACIO RODRIGUEZ-ITURBE, Texas A&M University, College Station FRANK W. SCHWARTZ, Ohio State University, Columbus HENRY J. VAUX, JR., University of California, Riverside Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director SHEILA D. DAVID, Senior Staff Officer CHRIS ELFRING, Senior Staff Officer JACQUELINE A. MACDONALD, Senior Staff Officer GARY D. KRAUSS, Staff Officer M. JEANNE AQUILINO, Administrative Associate ETAN Z. GUMERMAN, Research Associate ANGELA F. BRUBAKER, Research Assistant ANITA A. HALL, Administrative Assistant MARY BETH MORRIS, Senior Project Assistant (through July 1996) ELLEN de GUZMAN, Project Assistant

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--> COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES M. GORDON WOLMAN, Chair, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JAMES P. BRUCE, Canadian Climate Program Board, Ottawa, Canada WILLIAM L. FISHER, University of Texas, Austin JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, Progressive Foundation, Washington, D.C. PERRY L. MCCARTY, Stanford University, Stanford, California JUDITH E. MCDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts S. GEORGE PHILANDER, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ELLEN K. SILBERGELD, Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, D.C. STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director MORGAN GOPNIK, Assistant Executive Director GREGORY H. SYMMES, Reports Officer JAMES E. MALLORY, Administrative Officer SANDRA S. FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate SUSAN E. SHERWIN, Project Assistant

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--> The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is interim president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and interim vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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--> Preface Small water supply systems are an important part of the drinking water industry in the United States. Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population is served by more than 54,000 systems, each serving 10,000 or fewer people, and approximately two-thirds of these systems serve communities with populations of 500 or fewer people. The numbers of such systems are increasing rapidly; for example, the number of water systems serving 500 or fewer people increased sevenfold, from 5,000 to more than 35,000, between 1963 and 1993. While many of these systems produce a safe, wholesome water supply, many others lack the capital needed to upgrade their facilities and the revenue needed for day-to-day operation and maintenance. Modification of these systems to meet new standards, and implementation of monitoring programs to ensure that water quality is adequate, are particularly troublesome for such communities. The problems are compounded by the fact that small water systems lack the economies of scale of larger systems. These problems are most acute for systems serving fewer than 500 people. These systems violate drinking water standards for microbes and chemicals more than twice as often as systems serving more than 10,000 people. Communities with 500 or fewer residents are thus more vulnerable than larger communities to outbreaks of waterborne disease. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the problems of small water supply systems and in 1994 asked the National Research Council (NRC) to study the problem. In response to this request, and with the sponsorship of the EPA, the NRC's Committee on Small Water Supply Systems was established. Its membership consisted of 12 experts in water treatment, utility management, finance, and public health. In this report, the committee proposes a

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--> solution to the problem of providing safe drinking water to small communities that has three elements, each of which is equally important: providing affordable water treatment technologies, creating the institutional structure necessary to ensure the financial stability of the water systems, and improving programs to train small system operators in all aspects of water system maintenance and management. The committee studied the problems of small water systems by inviting a large number of water industry representatives to address the committee in their areas of expertise. These included representatives from the EPA who were involved in developing regulations for small water supplies and in researching water treatment processes for small water supplies; representatives of state regulatory agencies, with emphasis on states that have implemented innovative approaches to managing small systems; manufacturers of equipment for small systems; a representative from a third-party testing organization that evaluates small systems equipment and point-of-entry/point-of-use devices; a representative from the Natural Resources Defense Council; and representatives of groups responsible for providing assistance to small communities. The report is based on a thorough review of the information presented by these individuals, information from the published literature, and the expertise of the committee members. The successful preparation of this report was in large part dependent on the skills of Jackie MacDonald, NRC senior staff officer, who pressured and cajoled us into getting our sections of the report done in a timely fashion, contributed original written material for significant sections of the report, and thoroughly edited the entire report. Jackie's attention to detail, persistence, and organization were essential to the timely completion of this report. Jackie was ably assisted by Etan Gummerman, research associate, and Anita Hall, administrative assistant. David Dobbs, editor, made significant contributions to improving the clarity of several of the report chapters. Their important input is gratefully acknowledged. Also essential to the completion of this project was Stephen Clark, the committee's liaison from the EPA. His valuable insights and responsiveness to all of the committee's requests for information greatly facilitated the committee's work. The efforts of the committee members in attending meetings, researching their subjects, writing and revising their contributions, and reviewing and revising the entire report are acknowledged and sincerely appreciated. I hope that the reader will agree with me that the committee has done its job very well. VERNON L. SNOEYINK, Chair Committee on Small Water Supply Systems

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--> Contents     Executive Summary   1 1   Small Water Supply Systems: An Unsolved Problem   12     Increasing Number of Small Systems,   13     Increasing Number of Water Supply Regulations,   15     Increasing Responsibilities for Local and State Governments,   18     References,   22 2   Status of Small Water Systems   24     Financial Resource Limitations in Small Communities,   24     Compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act in Small Communities,   28     Health Risks of Inadequate Drinking Water Treatment,   35     Adequacy of Water Treatment and Distribution Systems in Small Communities,   41     Conclusions,   44     References,   45 3   Technologies for the Small System   48     Treatment Technologies: Overview,   49     Technologies for All Systems,   63     Technologies for Systems with Ground Water Sources,   88

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-->     Technologies for Systems with Surface Water Sources,   99     Centralized Operation Through Automation and Remote Monitoring and Control,   114     Options Other Than Centralized Treatment,   116     Conclusions,   127     References,   129 4   Evaluating Technologies for Small Systems   132     Current Requirements for Pilot Testing,   133     Establishing a Third-Party Certification Program,   134     Protocols for Technology Testing: Principles,   136     Technology-Specific Testing Requirements,   137     Matching Operator Skill to Equipment Complexity,   147     Centralizing Data Collection,   148     Conclusions,   149     Recommendations,   150     References,   152 5   Ensuring Small Water Supply System Sustainability   153     What Is Sustainable?,   153     Regulatory Options for Promoting Sustainability,   155     Public Health Performance Appraisals,   158     Other Nonproliferation Tools,   166     Utility Options for Improving Sustainability,   167     Implementing Changes to Promote Sustainability,   183     Conclusions,   184     Recommendations,   185     References,   186 6   Training Operators for Small Systems   187     Limitations of Existing Training Programs,   188     Proposed Improvements for Training Programs,   193     Implementation,   201     Conclusions,   203     Recommendations,   204     References,   204     Appendix: Committee on Small Water Supply Systems Biographical Information   205     Index   211