Tap Water

According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, the treatment of surface water must include coagulation, filtration, and disinfection procedures. In contrast, groundwater receives natural treatment by traveling through the soil and does not usually require any additional processing, with the exception of disinfection.37 Because of the inherent differences between the two water types, we grouped tap water sources according to surface water or groundwater. The EPA imposes stringent water treatment regulations under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Act was established to protect the quality of drinking water and focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use. In addition to maximum contaminant levels, EPA regulations include standard methods for the examination of water as well as analytical methods for compliance determinations of chemical and microbiological contaminants in drinking water. Primary maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) have been set to regulate the levels of arsenic, cyanide, mercury, chromium, and other chemicals associated with risks for public health. Secondary maximum contaminant levels (SMCLs) have also been set to regulate the aesthetics of tap water and relate to factors such as alkalinity, temperature, odor, color, pH, and water hardness. Importantly, owners or operators of public water systems are obligated to attain primary standards set by the EPA but are only encouraged to attain secondary standards. Levels of Ca2+, Mg2+, and Na+ are included in the SMCL category because their levels in tap water are not currently associated with risks for public health.

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