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Safe Drinking Water Act

Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County

Environmental Public Health
The U.S. Congress enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974. This act required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a national program to protect public water supplies. EPA was also given the authority to establish national standards for known or suspected drinking water contaminants.

In Florida the Federal drinking water standards are enforced by two state agencies: the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection. In Palm Beach County the authority for the regulation of public water supply systems has been delegated by these agencies to the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County (FDOH-PBC). If you have any questions regarding the public water supply system in your area please contact the Drinking Water Section of the FDOH-PBC at (561) 837-5988.

A drinking water supply system is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act if drinking water is provided to at least 25 persons or at least 15 service connections. These include the large water systems that provide service to municipal and incorporated areas as well as the small systems that may only serve a convenience store or day care center. FDOH-PBC conducts a regulatory program to ensure that the systems are being operated in compliance with Federal, State, and local regulations.

The safety of our drinking water supply is critical to the health of residents and visitors of Palm Beach County. Waterborne-disease outbreaks or other adverse health effects could result from deficiencies in public water systems, such as inadequate treatment or improper operation. In addition water resources could become contaminated by natural and man-made pollutants; such pollutants could include leakage from waste disposal, discharges from factories, accidental spills of chemicals, illegal dumping, and leakage from underground storage tanks.

Incidents of contamination are very rare because sanitary surveys, inspections, and sampling are routinely performed by the FDOH-PBC and the Utilities to verify that water treatment plants are in compliance with rules and regulations. Complaints relating to water quality are investigated on a regular basis and necessary enforcement actions are taken to ensure the safety of the water supply.

Water supply systems that provide drinking water to less than 25 persons or less than 15 service connections are not required to meet the stringent standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act. However, such systems are monitored for compliance with other State and County regulations. The FDOH-PBC inspects these systems routinely each year and conducts sampling for bacteria.

Water wells that supply water to one or two residences (one of which may be a rental) are categorized as "private" systems and are not regulated by the department. The FDOH-PBC provides guidance to property owners regarding private systems. Also, those wells in proximity to gasoline stations with leaking underground tanks are periodically tested for petroleum contamination through the well surveillance program.

The FDOH-PBC is also responsible for review of permit applications for the construction of water distribution systems/water main extensions, water treatment plants (both new and modified) and private wells.

Drinking Water Forms & Reporting Formats | Florida Department of Environmental Protection