While EPA oversees the Safe Drinking Water Act programs, much of the daily responsibility is delegated to state agencies. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office says the states are under-reporting violations and contamination to EPA. Moreover, EPA has fallen behind in setting standards for known contaminants that may cause health problems.
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The standards were initially scheduled to be released in August 2010, then October 2010, after EPA determined that the ones approved during the George W. Bush administration weren't grounded in science, didn't protect public health with an adequate margin of safety, and didn't protect the environment.
The new industries would be Iron Ore Mining, Phosphate Mining, Municipal Waste Incineration, Industrial Dry Cleaning, Petroleum Bulk Storage, and Steam-Only Production from Fossil Fuels.
While primary standards are designed to protect human health, secondary standards are established to protect the environment. In the case of NOx and SOx, some of the primary targets include reduced aquatic and terrestrial acidification, and reduced nitrogen deposition on land and water.
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On June 6, EPA announced a new round of grants going to nearly 200 communities in some 40 states and 3 tribal areas. Most of them go to poor and minority areas with high unemployment rates.
EPA has updated its Enforcement and Compliance History Online database so that federal standards violations through 2009 can be quickly identified. For example, pick a county and quickly get a customized listing of systems that fall into categories such as serial violators, or occasional violators of things such as health-based standards or monitoring requirements.
"Nonpoint" sources of water pollution worry officials. When rain falls or snow melts, the runoff can pick up fertilizers and pesticides from agricultural fields, sediments from construction sites, engine oil from city parking lots, germ-laden dog poop from curbside, etc.
ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten (left) revealed that some of the biggest fracking companies have been collecting extensive baseline data since 2008, keeping it concealed from public knowledge — including denying Duke University researchers the data when asked for it. The withheld data could either exonerate the companies or prove them responsible for pollution.
Denial of news media access to Gulf beaches has been an issue since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. There's tussling over access to (and interpretation of) scientific information on possible impacts of the spill on the Gulf ecosystem. And The Guardian obtained >30,000 pages of BP in-house memos FOIA'd by Greenpeace, which suggest BP was working hard to influence the results of the research it was paying for.