How do I know if a Public Water System has safe drinking water?

This is the second installment in an educational series about Public Water Systems from Protect Our Water Jackson Hole. The first installment can be found here.

JACKSON, Wyo. — Last time we talked about how Source Water Assessments (SWAs) can help protect Teton County’s Public Water Systems (PWSs). SWAs are studies or reports that generate information about potential contaminant sources and the potential for drinking water systems to be impacted by these sources. As a reminder, Wyoming is the only state that does not require Source Water Assessments. Teton County has 113 PWSs and very few have current SWAs.

Are SWAs alone enough to protect PWSs?

No – although SWAs generate information about potential contaminant sources, PWSs should have a Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) to minimize the impacts of the contaminant sources. SWPPs include a wide variety of actions and activities aimed at safeguarding, maintaining, or improving the quality or quantity of sources of drinking water and their contributing areas. These activities may depend on the type of source being protected (e.g., groundwater, reservoir, or river). Some examples of source water protection are:

  • Riparian zone restoration to reduce runoff pollution
  • Streambank stabilization to reduce sedimentation
  • Land protection/easements
  • Best management practices for agricultural and forestry activities or stormwater control
  • Local ordinances to limit certain activities in source water or wellhead protection areas
  • Developing emergency response plans
  • Educating local industry, businesses, and citizens on pollution prevention and source water protection

POWJH is currently working with stakeholders to find funding and resources to create and implement source water assessments.

Support local water quality today by donating to POWJH through Old Bill’s!

How do I find information about the quality of the drinking water from a PWS?

Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs), also known as water quality reports or drinking water quality reports, provide you with important information about the quality of your drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires every community water supplier to provide a CCR to its customers.

What type of information is in the report?

  • The lake, river, aquifer, or other sources of the drinking water
  • A brief summary of the risk of contamination of the local drinking water source
  • The regulated contaminant found in local drinking water
  • The potential health effects of any contaminant detected in violation of an EPA health standard
  • An accounting of the system’s actions to restore safe drinking water
  • An educational statement for vulnerable populations about avoiding Cryptosporidium
  • Educational information on nitrate, arsenic, or lead in areas where these contaminants may be a concern

The EPA maintains an online search tool to get a copy of any PWSs Consumer Confidence Report.

Are private drinking water wells protected?

No! Many Teton County residents receive their drinking water from a private well. Private well owners are responsible for the safety of their own water. If you use a private well, you can take steps to protect your water and ensure the safety of your drinking water.

  • Get your water tested at least once a year.
  • The Teton County Health Department Water Lab has bacteriological water testing available for Total Coliform and E. coli bacteria.
  • The Teton Conservation District provides more comprehensive well water test kits through a cost-share program.
  • PAY ATTENTION to Your Well Surroundings and ASK QUESTIONS.
    • Find out about facilities that may pollute your drinking water.
    • Attend planning or zoning meetings and ask questions about how your water sources will be protected.
    • Ask to see a project’s environmental impact statement. Check if water sources have been addressed.

You can make an impact on local water quality during the Old Bill’s Giving Season by supporting Protect Our Water Jackson Hole. Your gift enables us to continue our mission to protect and restore the surface waters and groundwater in Teton County. Give via Old Bill’s today!

You can always learn more at powjh.org. The time is now to protect our water.

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