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Closing the Water Quality Gap

Using policy to improve drinking water in federally unregulated drinking water systems

Food & Beverages
Good Governance

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulates the nation’s public drinking water supply, safeguarding drinking water for the majority of US residents. However, the SDWA does not apply to all drinking water sources.

Privately owned wells serve approximately 12% of the US population, totaling more than 40 million residents. These smaller water systems do not meet the federal definition of a public water system and therefore are not regulated by federal law.

ChangeLab Solutions developed this fact sheet for state and local health department staff who want to understand how state and local policy can be used, in addition to outreach and education, to ensure access to safe drinking water for people who use private wells.

For policy options, case examples, and guidance on how state and local health departments can implement policy, system, and environment changes to improve drinking water quality, see the resources listed below.