Members of the Total Coliform Rule/Distribution System Advisory Committee (TCRDSAC) recently signed an agreement in principle (AIP) that recommends revisions to the 1989 Total Coliform Rule (TCR), as well as research and information collection needed to better understand potential public health impacts from conditions in the distribution system and control microbial drinking water contamination. 

“This is a roadmap for strengthening safeguards against harmful bacteria in distribution lines and ensuring America”s water remains among the safest in the world,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency”s assistant administrator for water, in a prepared statement. 

The revisions to the rule will require systems with positive total coliform E. coli monitoring results to conduct an assessment to identify whether a sanitary defect is present and to correct defects found. The committee believes that the recommendations will improve public health protection through drinking water regulations that affect every public water system in the United States. According to the committee, the recommendations provide a more proactive approach to identifying and reducing problems that could lead to drinking water contamination. 

The 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act requires the EPA ( to review each National Primary Drinking Water Regulation at least once every six years and revise them, if appropriate. The agency established an advisory committee in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act with the specific charge of making recommendations and developing an AIP. After 13 public meetings spanning from July 2007 to September 2008, the TCRDSAC carefully examined the areas of the 1989 rule that it believes should be revised based on knowledge of scientific information, which included post-TCR implementation monitoring data and public health information. The TCRDSAC also formed an AIP specific to research and information collection.

For a copy of the AIP, visit: