How to Read Your Water Quality Consumer Confidence Report

Many of us are concerned about our water quality. With the recent water quality issues that have been highlighted in the media, it is important that you understand the potential issues with your water supply. Fortunately, if you have a municipal water supply, your utility company will provide you with a Water Quality Consumer Confidence report each year. Unfortunately, these documents can be a little complicated, and many consumers don’t know how to read the report properly. So, here we will explore the typical report, so you can know what is in your drinking water.  eyeglasses-and-magazine-1417363

The Requirements: 

All community water systems are required by the EPA to provide an annual water quality report to anyone drawing upon the system. This report is known as a CCR or Consumer Confidence Report and allows consumers to adequately monitor their water supply and make informed decisions.  

These reports should be delivered by July 1st each year and should inform the consumer about the contaminants, if any, have been shown to be present in the water supply. The report should also list the potential health implications of these contaminants. The CCR also provides an opportunity for the municipal water supply systems to inform their customers about the steps they are taking to deliver clean, safe drinking water.  

What Your CCR Contains: 

CCR’s can look technical at first glance, but they are fairly simple to read once you know what you’re looking for. Each report contains important information about your water supply and will provide information about the river, lake or aquifer that supplies your drinking water. There will also be a “risk summary,” which is a brief summary of potential contaminants and any regulated contaminants that were found. If contaminants have been found at levels violating EPA standards, there should also be details of the potential health risks and what measures have been taking to restore safety and water quality.  

The report will also provide educational statements and information about areas of concern including Cryptosporidium, arsenic, lead, and nitrates.

Finally, there will be phone numbers and contact details for further information, including the Safe Drinking Water Hotline provided by the EPA. 

Some states require specific information, but every report must include the federally mandated basic information outlined by law.  

Terms to Understand: 

In order to break down your CCR, you will need to understand the basic terms.  

Parameter or Contaminant Name: refers to the substance that is being analyzed.

Unit: is the measurement being reported, such as PPM or Parts Per Million.

MCGL: is the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal. This is the minimum contaminant level allowed in drinking water that is below the level with no expected or known health risks.

MCL: the Maximum Contaminant Level is the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed.

Amount Detected: this shows the level of contaminant that was detected in your water supply and is either reported as a range or average for the whole year.

Violation: this is usually a tick column that indicates whether the contaminant level exceeded the EPA standards.

Source: this is an indication of potential contaminant sources, such as additive, naturally present or some other water quality issue.

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.



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