The Safe Drinking Water Act Turns 40: What's Next?


Rob Renner, executive director of the Water Research Foundation (WRF), talks with Water Online about the impacts of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) over the past 40 years and what is on the horizon for the drinking water sector.

Since its creation in 1974, the SDWA has resulted in 19 regulations and governed 91 different contaminants, explains Renner in the interview.  But today the EPA has slowed down on regulations. Instead, focus has turned to integrated water management planning—of which water scarcity and reuse play a huge part.

 “Some of the water supplies are getting more impacted, and so we have to figure out what technologies are we going to use to treat that water,” says Renner. “One of the big things is going to be creating potable water out of wastewater effluent.”

Water infrastructure is also a pressing issue. Some estimate it will cost as much as a trillion dollars to update everything that is needed. A surprising  nationwide decrease in water use will make coming up with funds even more of a challenge for utilities, explains Renner.

“If water demand and water sales go down, how do you explain to the consumer, ‘we need to charge you more for less water, ’” he says.  “We're working on a lot of research in that area to say ‘OK how can we set up rate structures that protect those revenues?’”

To hear more about what’s ahead for the water industry click below.

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