EPA-430/9-7 3-009
        for the
        Water Supply Division
        Waghingtcm, D.C. 80460

              for the

            Prepared by:
         Special Studies Section
          November 1973
         Water Supply Division

In recent years increased attention has been directed to the
quality of drinking water provided by municipalities to its citizenry.
Much of this attention has come as a result of a study of community
water supply systems (1) which showed that many communities
cannot be assured of a continuous supply of safe and palatable
drinking water. Despite this interest in the larger water supply sys-
tems, very little information has been gathered concerning the qua-
lity of water available to the traveling public at small water systems.
The Water Supply Division of the Environmental Protection
Agency has therefore instituted a series of pilot studies to assess
the water quality, construction, maintenance, operation and sur-
veillar ice of water systems serving the traveling public. Several of
these studies have been completed, including a study of water
systems around Corps of Engineers reservoirs entitled: Sanitary
Survey of Drinking Water Systems on Federal Water Resource
Developments , a Pilot Study , (2), a second stud i: A Pilot Study
of DrinkintWater Systems at Bureau of Reclamation Developments ,
(3), a third study entitled: A Pilot Study of Drinking Water Sys-
tems on and along the National System of Interstate and Defense
Highways ,(4)
These studies become significant because of the large number
of travelers using these small water systems. There are an estimated
323 million visitors per year at Corps of Engineers reservoirs, 55
million visitors per year at Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs, and
one million people per day using smal lwater systems along interstate
highways. These three classes of systems are typical of a much
larger group of systems including those in State and National Parks
and in the National Forest system.
1. L.J. McCabe, J.M. Symons, RD. Lee, and G.G. Robeck, 1970 Survey of
Community Water Supply Systems, Journal of the AWWA 62 (11): 670-687.
2. Water Supply Division, 1971, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.
3. Water Supply Division, 1973, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.
4. Water Supply Division, 1973, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D .

Federal Highways Federal Highways
Bureau of Reclamation
Corps of Engineers
Bureau of Reclamation

Rapid dispersal of those people using these small water systems
is an inherent characteristic. Therefore, if there is a waterborne
disease outbreak at any one of these water systems, the affected
person may have traveled to far reaching locations before symp-
toms appear. One of the problems this poses is the extreme
difficulty in attempting to trace the origins of a disease to its
There are many diseases associated with contaminated water.
These inclued infectious hepatitis, salmonellosis, shi gellosis, dys-
entery, typhoid fever, cholera, amebiasis, and gastroenteritis, a
term used for an enteric disease when the etiolo ic agent is not
determined by laboratory analyses.
The problem of waterborne disease outbreaks was addressed by
Craun and McCabe (5). During the period 1961-1970, there
were 128 known outbreaks of disease in the United States attribu-
ted to contaminated drinking water; these affected 46,374 indivi -
duals and resulted in 20 deaths.
They reported that “the size of outbreaks in (non-municipal
water)” systems increased to 93 illnesses per outbreak during
1966-1970 (the last 4 years of the reporting period) primarily due
to a number of large outbreaks associated with recreational areas.”
This report describes the three pilot studies on drinking water
systems for the traveling public, discusses the findings, and makes
recommendations that are generally applicable to all small water
systems. Hopefully, these studies will focus more attention on
the problems inherent with these water systems to help improve
the overall health protection of the public.
5. L.J. McCabe, and G. Craun, 1971, Waterborne Disease Out-
breaks, 1961 -1970, American Water Works Association,
annual meeting, Denver, Colorado.

Surface Water
78% :
Ground Water
87% No Treatment
Ground Water
Only 13%
Surface Water
4% Finished Water
3 % No Treatment

As shown in the adjoining figures, the majority of the systems
evaluated used wells or springs (ground water) as a water source.
Approximately one fifth used lakes or rivers (surface water)
while a few systems purchased treated water from nearby
municipal systems.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that all
surface water systems be disinfected and that disinfection be a
requirement for ground water systems unless there is a history of
satisfactory bacteriological quality. Clarification may also be need-
ed in the treatment process if the turbidity level of the water fails
to meet the maximum limit in the Drinking Water Standards (6).
Of the systems studied that used ground water as a source,
most (87%) provided no treatment, despite the frequent lack of
a good historical record of bacteriological quality. While near-
ly all systems using a surface source provided treatment, one
third relied only on disinfection, which was sometimes inadequate
in view of the turbidity found.
6. U.S. Public Health Service, Drinking Water Standards ,
Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1962, 61p.

System Compliance with the Drinking Water Standards
Systems not meeting a constituent limit
of the Drinking Water Standards
Recommended limit
Mandatory Limit
0 1%
Fails one or more
mandatory limits
Meets all constituent
/ Fails one or more
- recommended limits
but meet all
mandatory limits
l U
U i
U. Q
C -,

The Drinking Water Standards have been developed to provide
a basis to judge the quality of drinking water. They are divided
into mandatory standards and recommended standards. The
mandatory standards place limits on the numbers of coliform
bacteria which may be found in drinking water. Coliform bac-
teria, while not necessarily harmful in themselves, may indicate
the presence of fecal contamination in the water. The mandatory
standards also place limits on the concentrations of various chem-
icals, which, if exceeded may be injurious to health over a period
of time.
The recommended standards are primarily esthetic in nature
and are divided into chemical and physical characteristics. They
relate to materials that impart objectionable taste, appearance,
and odor to the water, and are important because a consumer may
reject a safe water supply if its taste or appearance is unsatisfactory
to him. Excessive turbidity can also interfere with proper disinfec-
tion. Therefore, these limits should not be exceeded when a more
suitable water source can be made available.
Sixty-seven percent of the 233 water systems in these studies
did not meet one or more of the constituent limits of the Drinking
Water Standards. Sixty percent did not meet at lease one recom-
mended limit and 24% distributed water which did not meet at
least one mandatory chemical or bacteriological limit.
Most of the systems not meeting the Drinking Water Stan-
dards used ground water as a source. The most frequent prob-
lems found related to excessive levels of iron, manganese, and
total dissolved solids. Most of the problems with surface water
came from systems using the Colorado River. The problems were
a resultof the high mineral quality of the river. Five percent of
the systems using wells as a raw water source and 16% of the
systems using surface water showed coliform contamination.

Compliance with
Drinking Water Standards
Existence of any Bacteriological
Records for 12 months
Prior to the Study
Some Records
69% :..•::...
No Records
Where Chlorination was Practiced:
No Residual Found jfl: ::
Distribution System

The bacteriological surveil lance of the systems studied varied
widely. Only 10% of the systems were sampled frequently enough
to meet the Drinking Water Standards. Records could not be found
for any bacteriological testing within the preceding twelve months
at 31% of the water systems. Of the systems for which some records
were available, 24% had bacteriological samples which showed coIL
form contamination during at least one month within the past year
Sixteen percent of the systems showed contamination in two months
or more. This becomes even more significant with the realization
that only two or three bacteriological samples per year are taken
at many of these systems.
Very few of the systems surveyed were subject to routine
surveillance. Complete chemical analysis was not made on the
water every third year, as recommended by the Environmental
Protection Agency, at any of the water systems. Some of the
water systems had been sampled for chemical constituents
prior to placing the system into operation; however, no samples
had been collected afterwards.
The adequacy of the facilities to treat, distribute and to
store drinking water was determined by site surveys and inter-.
views with operating personnel.
Operation and control of the water systems studied was
generally poor. This was particularly true at the commercial water
systems where daily surveillance of the system was not usually
conducted. Where chlorination was practiced, daily chlorine re-
siduals were generally not taken and in some cases the chlorination
equipment was not operative at the time of survey. Among the
systems which practiced chlorination, no residual was found in 58%
of the distribution systems.
Source protection throughout the studies was good. Ninety-.
four percent of the systems were judged adequate. The remaining
6% were judged inadequate with respect to source protection be-
cause of a flooded well pit or lack of a sanitary well seal.
Four percent of the water supply systems had pressures of
less than 20 psi in the distribution system at the time of the sur-
vey. This condition was usually caused by high volume instantan-
eous water demands on the system.

in order to rectify the problems highlighted by these studies,
the following general recommendations have been offered:
1. State and County governmental agencies are primar-
ily responsible for the surveillance of the drinking water systems
serving the traveling public. These agencies need to devote a
higher priority to initiating and maintaining an acceptable Pro-
gram of bacteriological and chemical surveillance and to provid-
ing regular sanitary surveys of the water systems. The cost of
an adequate surveillance program which would typically include
a complete chemical analysis of the water every third year, two
bacteriological samples per month and one sanitary survey each
year approaches $300 per system.
These agencies should also establish and implement
a permit program for water systems serving the traveling public.
A permit should be required before any private or public entity
would be allowed to provide drinking water to the public.
2. The Federal agencies involved with the construction
or operation of drinking water systems need to assure that their
regulations and policies include compliance with the Drinking
Water Standards. An identifiable organizational unit or specific
positions in an existing office should be established at the re-
gional office ana headquarters level of each agency with well
defined water supply responsibilities. This group of positions
would control the centralized approval of construction plans
for new systems and should provide for the monitoring and op-
erational review of all systems. Where water quality problems
are indicated, the agency should seek a better source of water
and/or provide additional treatment. The agency should make
sure that those people responsible for the operation and main-
tenance of the water systems have the appropriate training to
execute their responsibilities.

The Specific Recommendations Of These Studies Are :
1. Disinfection should be a mandatory requirement for
all systems using surface water. Other treatment should be
employed as necessary to insure that the turbidity level does
not fail to meet the limit established in the Drinking Water
Standards. Disinfection should be a mandatory requirement
for all drinking water systems using ground water unless a
history of satisfactory bacteriological sampling and sanitary
surveys has been developed. However, disinfection should not
be considered as an effective substitute for correcting system
deficiencies or for an adequate health surveillance program.
2. Systems failing to meet the mandatory chemical
limits should be provided with proper treatment equipment to
produce a water meeting the Drinking Water Standards and/or
another raw water source meeting these Standards should be
found. Systems failing to meet recommended limits should
also employ proper treatment or seek another raw water source
where economically feasible.
3. Increased attention should be given to improved well
construction and to the monitoring of well performance.
4. Cisterns should be replaced by other water systems
if at all possible, because of the many avenues of contamination
of cistern water.
5. Daily inspection of the chlorine feed equipment and
daily records of the chlorine residuals should be maintained.
6. The State or local surveillance agency, or the Federal
agency as appropriate, should assure that all persons responsibile
for the ooeration of the water systems are properly trained and
7. A bacteriological sampling program which will meet
the minimum requirements of the Drinking Water Standards
should be required at each system.

8. The water from all drinking water systems should be
tested for all chemical constituents listed in the Drinking Water
Standards before the water is made available to the public.
Regular chemical analysis is recommended for all systems.
9. Yearly sanitary surveys and continuing attention to
each water system should be provided.
The following recommendations relate to problems that should
be considered by appropriate Federal agencies and others having
broad water supply responsibilities and interests.
1. The problems inherent in the operation of small
water systems at recreational areas are unique. Criteria and
standards should be developed for the construction, operation,
and health surveillance of small public drinking water systems
serving recreational areas. There is a need to reevaluate the
bacteriological sampling frequency as required by the Drinking
Water Standards for these types of systems.
2. Chlorination as a means of disinfection for small,
isolated water systems, has several problems. In order to help
rectify some of the problems in disinfection by chlorination,
alternative means of disinfection should be reviewed.
3. Since this project is only a pilot study which in-
volved isolated areas, the results indicate the need for further
study. This study should be extended to other small water
systems to fully assess the ability of these systems to continu-
ously produce safe and esthetically pleasing water.