"Emphasis On E. Coli: New Rules Tackle Bacteria in Drinking Water"

"New national drinking water rules are expected to lead to fewer dangerous pathogens coming out of the tap. The new regulation, which was announced last month and takes effect within three years, switches focus to a type of bacteria that more accurately reflects the presence of pathogens that can make people sick."

"The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that its revised rules will cost U.S. utilities an additional $14 million a year. About 155,000 public water systems, providing water to more than 300 million people, must comply. For two decades, water agencies have used an indicator of water quality called total coliform to check for dangerous fecal matter in drinking water. But its presence does not necessarily mean there's a public health threat. Under the new rule, the agencies will add tests for E. coli, the most dangerous pathogen. Discovery of any amount will spur immediate notification of customers. 'The total coliform notifications were a terrible way to communicate risk to the public,' said Mark LeChevallier, a director at American Water, a nationwide water company, and an EPA advisor. 'All the previous notices did was meaninglessly scare people.'"

Brian Bienkowski reports for Environmental Health News January 10, 2013.

Source: EHN, 01/10/2013