About the MDH Drinking Water Protection Program
The Minnesota Department of Health stresses assistance and working with water suppliers to assure compliance with SDWA standards, although enforcement through fines and administrative penalty orders can be used when necessary.
Major functions of the MDH Drinking Water Program include:
- Enforcement of federal safe drinking water standards.
- Training and technical assistance for water operators.
- Testing and inspection of public water systems.
- Certification of testing laboratories.
Community Public Water Supply Unit
The MDH Community Water Supply Unit is responsible for assuring the compliance of community water supply systems with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The Unit consists of field staff located in MDH's district offices and compliance staff located in St. Paul.
The activities of the Unit include:
- Sanitary Surveys: A sanitary survey is an on-site review of the adequacy of the water source, facilities, equipment, operation and maintenance of a public water supply system for producing and distributing safe drinking water. Sanitary surveys for community water supply systems are conducted once every 18 months.
- Sample Collection: Required water samples are collected by MDH or the public water supply. All community water supplies are tested for contaminants such as pesticides, solvents, and metals.
- Technical Assistance: Field staff provides on-site technical assistance to community water supply systems in resolving contamination events and other water system problems.
- Training and Education: Each community water supply is required to have at least one certified operator. MDH staff participate in water supply training throughout the state. Additionally, an informational newsletter is sent quarterly to each certified water operator.
Noncommunity Water Supply Unit
MDH works with the public water supply to:
- collect many of the required water samples,
- provide water sampling supplies and financial assistance for testing and analyzing,
- routinely conduct inspections,
- ensure contamination issues are resolved and corrective action is taken,
- provide technical assistance and plan review,
- coordinate training for water operators, and
- develop information and guidance resources on commonly asked topics as they refer to public drinking water.
Source Water Protection Unit
Protection for surface water intakes is not required, but many of Minnesota's 24 community water supply systems that use surface water have expressed interest in developing protection plans.
MDH has convened a work group to help determine how these plans should be prepared and who should approve them.