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Water: Safe Drinking Water Act

Variances and Exemptions

The Safe Drinking Water Act provides states or EPA the authority to grant variances that allow public water systems to use less costly technology, and exemptions to allow public water systems more time to comply with a new drinking water regulation.

  • Variances allow eligible systems to provide drinking water that does not comply with a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) on the condition that the system installs a certain technology and the quality of the drinking water is still protective of public health.

        • There are two types of variances:
            1. General variances are intended for systems that are not able to comply with a NPDWR due to their source water quality.

            2. Small system variances are intended for systems serving 3,300 persons or fewer that cannot afford to comply with a NPDWR, but they may be allowed for systems serving up to 10,000 persons.

  • Exemptions allow eligible systems additional time to build capacity in order to achieve and maintain regulatory compliance with newly promulgated NPDWRs, while continuing to provide acceptable levels of public health protection. Exemptions do not release a water system from complying with NPDWRs. Rather, they allow water systems additional time to comply with NPDWRs.

General Information

Federal Register Notices

Public Input Historical Documents


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