The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is responsible for enforcing the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act under the legislative authority of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, which means that EGLE regulates the public water supplies to ensure that they are complying with state and federal requirements to provide clean water to Michigan residents. There are approximately 1,400 community water supplies and 10,000 noncommunity water supplies regulated by EGLE.
Additionally, EGLE also regulates the water well drilling industry. Michigan has nearly 1.12 million households served by private wells, with approximately 15,000 domestic wells drilled each year. EGLE investigates drinking water well contamination and oversees remedial activities at sites of groundwater contamination affecting drinking water wells.
Local health departments (LHDs) are the primary regulatory agencies with respect to residential wells. They are required to maintain a list of environmental contaminants within their jurisdiction, and they consider this information when they issue permits for new wells. Local Health Departments work with Michigan residents to ensure compliance with monitoring and routine inspections of Type II and III wells. Your Local Health Department is usually at the district or county level, and its phone number can be found in a local telephone book or online at MALPH.org.
In 1974, the U.S. Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). This act gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) responsibility for establishing and enforcing drinking water standards nationwide. The Michigan SDWA, Public Act 399, as amended, (Act 399) was enacted in 1976 and enables the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to oversee public drinking water program in the state.
EGLE oversees public water supplies by enforcing both state and federal drinking water requirements as found in the Michigan SDWA and associated administrative rules. The Michigan SDWA regulates water supplies in many ways, including, but not limited to, the following:
Monitoring and Reporting – Public water supplies must conduct sampling (take water samples and analyze) and report results to the regulatory agency. Regulations require testing for bacteria, metals, volatile and synthetic compounds, PFAS, radiological contaminants, and other substances. Water supplies that perform water treatment must also submit monthly operation reports.
Drinking Water Standards – The Michigan SDWA establishes drinking water standards such as maximum contaminant levels and treatment techniques. Water supplies must remain in compliance with these standards. If they fail to do so, the water supply must take corrective action and the public must be notified.
Notification of the Public – Regulations require public notification in circumstances such as violation of a maximum contaminant level, violation of a treatment technique, or exceedance of an action level. Community water supplies must also provide an annual water quality report (sometimes referred to as a Consumer Confidence Report) to their customers.
On-Site Inspections – In-depth water supply inspections, called sanitary surveys, are conducted periodically by EGLE or Local Health Departments. These inspections include review of numerous aspects of water supply operations such as treatment, distribution, management, monitoring, etc. In addition to sanitary surveys, periodic routine site visits are also conducted.
Construction Permitting – Water supplies must receive a construction permit before making significant alterations to the water supply. This is to ensure that changes to the water system will not negatively impact public health and the system will function as intended. Construction projects should comply with accepted industry standards.
Treatment Requirements – Extensive treatment requirements exist for both surface water and ground water supplies. These requirements ensure adequate treatment isused, and that treatment is conducted and monitored properly.
Reliability and Emergency Response – Water supplies are required to demonstrate ongoing reliability and have plans for effectively managing emergency situations.
Source Water Protection – Regulations are in place to protect drinking water sources from contamination. This includes proper well isolation, protection of the area around the wellhead from sources of contamination, proper well construction and abandonment, etc.
Capacity Development – Water suppliers are expected to maintain adequate technical, managerial, and financial capacity to successfully operate their water supply.
Operator Certification – Certain types of public water supplies, including community water supplies, must be under the oversight of a certified drinking water operator. Drinking Water Operator Certification requirements include a combination of education, experience, and examination. Drinking water operators are required to meet continuing education requirements to renew their certification.
Laboratory Certification – Most samples must be submitted to a laboratory certified to conduct drinking water analysis. EGLE maintains a drinking water laboratory certification program to ensure laboratories are meeting certification requirements.