The Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov) is set to finalize two new drinking water rules by the end of 2006, according to a report in the American Water Works Association’s (www.awwa.org) latest issue of WaterWeek. Specifically, the Ground Water Rule (GWR) is expected to be final in August with the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule — Round 2 (UCMR2) going final in November.

The purpose of the GWR is to provide increased protection against microbial pathogens in public water systems that use ground water sources. The EPA is particularly concerned about ground water systems that are susceptible to fecal contamination since disease-causing pathogens may be found in fecal matter. The GWR will apply to public water systems that serve ground water. The rule will also apply to any system that mixes surface and ground water if the ground water is added directly to the distribution system and provided to consumers without treatment.

The EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring program collects data on contaminants suspected to be present in drinking water, but that do not have health-based standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Every five years the EPA reviews its list of contaminants, which under terms of the program is not to exceed five substances. Under the second round of this program, the EPA is establishing a rule, including a new list of proposed contaminants, methods for monitoring, and guidance for public water systems monitoring and reporting requirements.

In addition to its stated plans for GWR and UCMR2, the EPA also plans to propose revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) in August with a second preliminary regulatory determination due in October. The LCR proposal stems from the agency”s ongoing review of implementation issues, and the regulatory determination will address whether at least five contaminants on the second Contaminant Candidate List should be regulated.