* JL \
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
December 1, 2011
Why We Did This Review
Congress created the Drinking
Water State Revolving Fund
(DWSRF) program to assist
public water systems with
upgrading infrastructure to ensure
the continued provision of safe
drinking water. The fund requires
states to give priority to projects
needed to protect public health
and ensure compliance with the
Safe Drinking Water Act
(SDWA), especially in locations
with great economic need and the
most serious health problems. We
sought to determine whether
DWSRF funds are effectively
used to assist communities that
do not meet standards.
Congress established the DWSRF
program in the 1996 amendments
to SDWA. The goal of the
DWSRF program is to provide
states with the means to establish
a revolving fund to provide low-
cost loans to public water
systems, and other funding
through set-asides, to further
public health protection under
SDWA. In fiscal year 2010, the
U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) allotted
$1.36 billion for state DWSRF
For further information, contact
our Office of Congressional and
Public Affairs at (202) 566-2391.
The full report is at:
Enhanced Coordination Needed to Ensure
Drinking Water State Revolving Funds Are Used to
Help Communities Not Meeting Standards
What We Found
The DWSRF program is not taking full advantage of the data and tools that are
available to identify noncompliant systems that may benefit from DWSRF
funding. Although EPA and the states use DWSRF funds to assist communities
in achieving or maintaining compliance with drinking water standards, some
high-priority systems were not aware of the DWSRF program. SDWA requires
that funding priority be given to projects that address the most serious risk to
human health, are necessary to ensure SDWA compliance, and assist systems
most in need. However, noncompliance by some community systems with the
highest number of health-based violations is being resolved through other
means, such as through consolidation with other systems, enforcement actions,
technical assistance, or other funding sources. One EPA region and two states
we reviewed stated that EPA does not have discussions with states about
specific systems in violation of SDWA when reviewing state intended use
plans and project priority lists, or when conducting annual reviews. The EPA
DWSRF program should encourage enhanced coordination with enforcement
programs and use available Agency enforcement data and tools to identify
noncompliant systems that may benefit from DWSRF funding. These actions
would assist in achieving the Agency's strategic objective of making water safe
to drink.
What We Recommend
We recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Water include in the
annual regional review of states checklist an assessment of the coordination
between state DWSRF and enforcement programs. We also recommend that
the Assistant Administrator create a national intended use plan review checklist
that includes a requirement to assess coordination between state DWSRF and
enforcement programs. Further, we recommend that the Assistant
Administrator identify and implement actions to enhance coordination between
regional and state DWSRF and Public Water System Supervision programs.
EPA agreed with all of our recommendations and provided milestone dates for
each recommendation.