The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has updated the rule for pathogens in drinking water, including setting a limit for the bacteria E. coli to better protect public health.
The Revised Total Coliform Rule ensures that all of the approximately 155,000 public water systems in the United States, which provide drinking water to more than 310 million people, take steps to prevent exposure to pathogens like E. coli, which can cause a variety of illnesses with symptoms such as acute abdominal discomfort or, in more extreme cases, kidney failure or hepatitis.
Under the revised rule, public drinking water systems are required to notify the public if a test exceeds the maximum contaminant level for E. coli in drinking water. If E. coli or other indications of drinking water contamination are detected above a certain level, drinking water facilities must assess the system and fix potential sources and pathways of contamination.
High-risk drinking water systems with a history of non-compliance must perform more frequent monitoring. The revised rule provides incentives for small drinking water systems that consistently meet certain measures of water quality and system performance.