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Report: Approximately 98% of Minnesota community water systems met all federal health-based standards

Safe Drinking Water Act turns 50

Today the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released its annual report on drinking water (PDF), which notes that 98% of Minnesota community water systems have drinking water that met all federal health-based standards throughout 2023. The report includes the results of monitoring done in the past year on Minnesota’s 6,616 public water systems.

Water from various public water systems was served up in flights at the State Capitol today as officials touted the importance of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which was signed into law 50 years ago. This landmark legislation directed all public water systems to follow federal, health-based standards to protect consumers from contaminants that can be found in drinking water. In conjunction with that milestone, Governor Tim Walz has proclaimed the week of May 5-11 as Safe Drinking Water Week in Minnesota.

The passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974 marked the first time a national set of regulations and standards was established to include all public-water suppliers in the United States. The law directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop health-based standards for several contaminants — those naturally occurring and those resulting from human and animal activity — that may be found in drinking water supplies. The significance of Safe Drinking Water Act is the subject of a video produced by MDH, featuring interviews with former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Minnesota Governor Al Quie, who both represented Minnesota in Congress when the law was passed.

Each year since 1995, MDH has provided citizens and the EPA with a report on the status of public drinking water in Minnesota. This report provides both an assessment of how well public water systems are doing at meeting the standards set in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and insights about current challenges faced by public water suppliers. In addition, community water systems also issue Consumer Confidence Reports to their residents each year, which list contaminants that were detected, even in trace amounts, during the previous calendar year.

The report notes ongoing threats to Minnesota’s drinking water, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), nitrate, and aging infrastructure, including an estimated 100,000 lead service lines, which can be a source of lead exposure for households.

“Many dedicated professionals work together to protect, test and deliver safe drinking water and maintain its infrastructure,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham. “While challenges remain, the Minnesota Department of Health is committed to working with partners to ensure that all Minnesotans have confidence in the quality of the water at their taps.”



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