Date Signed: April 20, 1990


SUBJECT:   Change in the PWSS Program's Definition of Timely
             and Appropriate Actions

FROM:      Michael B. Cook, Director (signed by Michael B. Cook)
             Office of Drinking Water

TO:          Water Management Division Directors
             Regions I - X

       The purpose of this memorandum is to advise you of a modification in the PWSS
program's definition  of "timely" in the "timely and appropriate" guidance.  This modification
will be effective in FY 1991, as was noted in the FY 1991 "Guide to the Office of Water
Accountability System and Regional Evaluations."

       I.     Background/Proposed Change

       The current "timely and appropriate" guidance states that for an action against a
significant noncomplier (SNC) to be considered timely it must be taken within six months of the
discovery of the SNC for microbiological/turbidity/TTHM SNCs and within twelve months of
the discovery of the SNC for chemical/radiological  SNCs.

       In February, my staff proposed a change to the "timeliness" portion of the "timely and
appropriate" guidance to state that an action against any SNC would be considered timely if it
occurs within six months of the discovery of that SNC.

       This change does not imply  that all SNCs can be resolved, that is, returned to physical
compliance, within this timeframe.  I recognize that compliance with the chemical/radiological
requirements often takes longer than compliance with other requirements.  I do believe, however,
that we can take the appropriate enforcement action to address these systems within six months.

       This approach has  several advantages. First, it simplifies our guidance and, as a result,
our reporting requirements. All SNCs will now be subject to the same timelines. Regional
reporting to headquarters will be simplified as will the ODW's annual report to the Agency on
the implementation of the  timely and appropriate enforcement response criteria.

       Secondly, with the change in the definition of SNC, there are no longer two categories of
SNC, but several.  Setting out different timeliness criteria for several types of SNCs does not
appear to be feasible and it would unnecessarily complicate tracking and reporting, as well as

explaining our policy to those outside ODW.

       Thirdly,  changes in the Operating Guidance and in our capacity to generate the
chemical/radiological SNC lists seem to make this approach a logical one. The FY 1991
Operating Guidance requires the Regions to provide quarterly reports on all SNCs.  Secondly,
FRDS 2.0 has the capacity to generate the chemical/radiological SNC list each quarter. In
previous years, we were able to pull the chemical/radiological SNC list only once per year and
the Regions were required to report follow-up actions on these only once per year. With those
constraints, the difference in the "timeliness" criteria for resolving microbiological/turbidity
SNCs and chemical/radiological SNCs made sense. However, since these constraints no longer
exist, putting all SNCs on the same time schedule seems to be the logical way to proceed.

       Please note that no change in the definition of an "appropriate" action is being proposed
at this time.

       II.    Comments on the Proposed Change

       My staff proposed this change in a memorandum to the Drinking Water/Groundwater
Protection Branch Chiefs (February 23, 1990). We received comments from all of the Regions.
A summary of the comments received is contained in Attachment 1.

       This change was discussed at the Branch Chiefs' meeting in Seattle in March and all the
Regions that attended agreed that ODW should implement the change in FY 1991 along with the
revised definition of SNC.

       III. Implementation of the New "Timeliness" Definition

       The revised definition for "timeliness," that is, "in order for an appropriate action against
a SNC to be  considered timely, it must have been taken within six months of the discovery  of
that SNC" will be effective in FY 1991. We will apply the criteria beginning with the list of new
SNCs which will be generated in October 1990. The time for "appropriate action" on these  new
SNCs will expire in March 1991. Regions will report follow-up on SNCs in the same manner as
they are currently on the STARS quarterly reports. The only difference will be that the quarterly
reports will contain all SNCs (not just microbiological and turbidity SNCs).

       Should you have any questions on this, please contact me or have your staff contact
Betsy Devlin at  (202) 564-2245.


cc:     Drinking Water/Groundwater Protection Branch Chiefs
       PWSS Enforcement Coordinators
       Kathy Summerlee

                                                                              Attachment 1
                                                                                Page 1  of2

                         Concur with change.  No other
                                      None needed.
Concur with change. The one
drawback is that it will give less
time to address the large number
of systems which will become
SNCs due to the SNC
It is true that we anticipate an
increase in the number of SNCs
due to the SNC redefinition.
However, the increase should be
seen mainly in the
microbiological and turbidity
SNCs where the time for taking
action was already six months.
Thus, the change in "timeliness"
does not give us less time to
address these SNCs.
                         Concur.  No other comments.
                         Concur.  No other comments.
Concur. We must note two
ramifications of this change: (1)
States will in many cases be
forced to finalize a formal
enforcement action before  an
engineering study has been
completed.  This may make it
necessary for States to be willing
to revise final compliance dates
and interim milestones in their
orders. This should be
acknowledged in guidance; (2)
We will most likely have a higher
percentage of exceptions,
especially in complex cases
which involve hearings and
community responses.
                                                               None needed.
                                                               None needed.
                                                               Agree with Region V's
                                                               comments; no change needed in
                                                               "timeliness" criteria.

                                                                               Attachment 1
                                                                                 Page 2 of2

                         Agree with the change for
                         chemical/radiological monitoring
                         and reporting SNCs; however, for
                         chemical and radiological MCL
                         SNCs, believe the time period is
                         too short.  A system becomes an
                         SNC when it receives the results
                         of a chemical analysis showing
                         concentrations above the URTH
                         level. Six months is too short for
                         a system to install treatment and
                         return to compliance and
                         changing the "timeliness" criteria
                         to six months will force States to
                         put even cooperative systems on
                         formal compliance schedules
                         when it  is not necessary.

                                      We are aware of your concerns;
                                      they are similar to those raised by
                                      Region V; however, the
                                      timeframe allowed is for EPA or
                                      the States to take action  not for
                                      the system to return to
                                      compliance.  We believe that
                                      action can be taken in most cases
                                      in the six months allowed.
                         Concur with the change.



Concur with the change. No
other comments.

Concur with the change. No
other comments.

Concur with the change. Make
all changes (i.e., SNC
redefinition, change in
"timeliness," and the escalation
guidelines) at one time.
No response needed.
No response needed.
Agree with Region X's comment.