How To Read A Water Quality Consumer Confidence Report

How To Read A Water Quality Report

Deciphering the water quality consumer confidence report. Know what's in your drinking water.

The EPA requires all community water systems to provide anyone drawing upon the system with an annual water quality report. This report is called a Consumer Confidence Report, or CCR. These CCR reports allow consumers to monitor their water and can help them to make informed decisions about the water they drink, bathe in and cook with.

The report, delivered each year by July 1st, informs consumers about what contaminants, if any, are present in their water supply and how these contaminants may affect their health. CCRs also give municipal water supply systems an opportunity to tell their customers what it takes to deliver safe, clean drinking water.

What Water Quality Information Does a CCR Contain?

Water reports can look a bit technical, but they're actually pretty easy to read if you know what to look for. Each water quality report will contain important information about your drinking water. First, the report will offer information about:

• The lake, river or aquifer that is the source of your drinking water.

• A brief “risk summary” of potential contamination of the source.

• Any regulated contaminant found.

• The potential health risks associated with the contaminant detected that is in violation of any EPA standard.

• An account of the systems efforts to restore water quality and safety.

• An education statement for vulnerable populations regarding Cryptosporidium.

• Educational information about nitrates, arsenic, and lead in areas where they may be of concern.

• Phone numbers for additional information, including the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline.

States may also require specific information, but all reports must include the basic federally mandated information as outlined by law.

Important Water Quality Information You Need To Understand

The main section of your CCR will break down exactly what is present in your water, at what levels, how it might have entered the water supply, how it was treated and any potential health effects of the substance. They key items to be aware of in this section include:

Contaminant or Parameter Name – This is the substance being analyzed for example, lead, arsenic or nitrates.

Unit – This is the unit of measurement being reported, for example ppm = parts per million.

MCGL – This is Maximum Contaminant Level Goal. This is the minimum level of a contaminant allowed in drinking water, below which there are no known or expected health risks.

MCL – Maximum Contaminant Level. This is the highest level of contaminant allowed.

Amount Detected - The level of any contaminant detected in your water. This is either reported as an average for the year, or as a range.

Violation - A yes in this column means that a contaminant was present that exceeded and MCL.

Source – This column indicates a potential source of a particular contaminant, like naturally present, an additive, or a result of contamination from a particular method or business.

Comparing Results

To see if a particular contaminant is present at a level that is near or exceeds federal or state guidelines, compare the level shown in the amount detected column to the MCL level column. You can also compare the contaminant to the MCGL column. Remember that MCGL is a target goal, not a requirement. Water utilities are required by law to keep contaminant levels below the MCL level, but not below the MCGL level.

If you have any questions regarding the MCL or MCGL levels on your report you can call the EPA safe drinking water hotline at 1-800-426-4791. The EPA staff can answer any questions about federal drinking water standards and provide you with additional information.

Improving Your Water Quality

If your water has a bad taste, odor or color, or if you are concerned about a particular contaminant that may be present, treatment options are available. If you are interested in learning more about your treatment options or need help interpreting your CCR, give Skillings and Sons a call.

Skillings & Sons are best known for drilling wells and providing well owners water treatment systems in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Did you know that we also provide water treatment for homeowners on municipal water systems? Contact us to learn more about your water treatment options!