The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Environmental Health, Drinking Water Program requires Public Water Systems (PWS) to be in compliance with the state drinking water regulations, in accordance with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Amendments, for the public health protection of the residents and visitors to the State of Alaska.
What is a Public Water System?
A Public Water System (PWS) supplies water to consumers and is NOT a private water system. There are different categories of PWS that supply water to consumers. Each category of systems has its own set of requirements that a PWS must meet.
- Community Water System
- expects to serve, year round, at least 25 individuals; or
- expects to serve, year round, at least 15 residential service connections
- Non-Transient Non Community Water System (NTNCWS)
- regularly serves the same 25 or more individuals for at least 6 months of the year
- Transient Non Community Water System (TNCWS)
- is not a CWS or NTNCWS
- regularly serves at least 25 individuals each day for at least 60 days of the year
What do the drinking water regulations do?
The drinking water regulations set the standards for safe drinking water, and they identify the regulated drinking water contaminants and the level of those contaminants allowed in the water. These contaminants could be harmful for those who drink the water, especially the elderly, children, or individuals with developing or compromised immune systems or that have immune deficiencies.
- What types of contaminants do we regulate?
- Bacteria, Viruses (from septic systems, etc) and parasitic protozoans
- Lead and Copper
- Nitrate and Nitrite (commonly from septic systems and manure piles)
- Heavy Metals like Arsenic and Cadmium
- Volatile Organic Contaminants (VOC) like Benzene and gasoline
- Synthetic Organic Contaminants (SOC) like pesticides and herbicides
How do these contaminants affect us?
Consuming water containing contaminants above the established Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set by the regulations over a period of time could cause chronic (long term) or acute (short term) health problems.
What does the DW Program do?
- Requires that public water system owners and operators monitor drinking water for regulated drinking water contaminants.
- Reviews contaminant monitoring results from public water suppliers and specify corrective measures where contamination is indicated.
- Approves new public water systems and modifications to existing ones.
- Regulates minimum health-based standards and procedures for design, construction and operation of Alaska's 1,400 CWS, NTNCWS and TNCWS public drinking water systems.
- Implements a statewide drinking water compliance strategy to best assist Alaska water systems in providing cost-effective safe drinking water.
- Provides information about contaminant monitoring and sampling procedures to public water system owners and operators, third-party engineering consultants, and stakeholders for public water systems.
- Responds to complaints of contaminated or damaged public drinking water wells and impacted watersheds.
- Maintains a statewide database with monitoring, compliance, and enforcement information on public drinking water systems.