DHEC’s Latest ‘Triennial Review’ Shows more than 99% of S.C. Public Drinking Water Meets Safety Standards
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sept. 26, 2023
Comprehensive report demonstrates S.C.’s Capacity Development Strategy is ensuring safe drinking water
COLUMBIA, S.C. ― This month, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) released its triennial review of the effectiveness of the State Capacity Development Strategy for Drinking Water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through the Safe Drinking Water Act, requires all states to perform these reviews to make certain their state-level strategies help public drinking water systems meet the most current state and federal water quality standards. These standards help protect drinking water and, in turn, protect people’s health.
“Clean drinking water is essential to life,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “All South Carolinians deserve access to drinking water that meets all the standards for supporting good health. I’m proud of all that DHEC’s Bureau of Water staff does to monitor drinking water across the state and provide assistance to drinking water providers to ensure the quality of water their customers receive.”
DHEC’s 2023 Triennial Drinking Water Capacity Development Report shows that more than 99% of the state’s drinking water systems complied with the health-based standards for safe drinking water, meaning more than 99% of the population served by public water systems received water that met or exceeded health-based standards.
While DHEC monitors water quality and conducts routine inspections of facilities, it is ultimately the responsibility of water systems to maintain compliance with drinking water standards. DHEC offers several capacity development opportunities to water systems, such as providing technical and financial assistance through its State Revolving Fund (SRF) program and, when necessary, taking appropriate enforcement actions if a water system violates standards. The goal of the Capacity Development Strategy is to enhance public water systems’ technical, managerial and financial capabilities. The strategy provides guidance to create healthy systems that provide healthy water.
Some key assessments from the 2023 triennial review include:
- DHEC’s internal Office of Rural Water and our external partner, the South Carolina Rural Water Association, work closely with small water systems, especially those in disadvantaged communities, to help them meet their challenges of maintaining viability. These two groups are non-regulatory, which allows them to build relationships with the water systems and communities they serve. They provide technical assistance and seek funding on behalf of rural water providers.
- DHEC’s State-Revolving Fund (SRF) provides low-interest and principal-forgiveness loans that help water systems build and enhance water facilities that meet state and federal standards. The SRF also provides funding to address emerging contaminants and lead service line replacements.
- DHEC’s Drinking Water compliance, monitoring and permitting groups continuously seek improvement through oversight of our state’s source waters and finished water from public water supplies. DHEC’s Area-Wide Optimization Program encourages facilities to not only meet but exceed state and federal standards through enhanced, multi-point treatment to reduce contaminants.
"Having more than 99% of our state's public water systems achieving health standards is a reflection of our dedicated DHEC staff and our partners, and the work they put into providing the necessary resources to water system operators across the state," said Myra Reece, DHEC Director of Environmental Affairs. "These comprehensive triennial reviews help us identify the issues that may prevent water systems from meeting full compliance and how they can be corrected, which is a critical part of our mission to ensure every community receives clean, safe drinking water."
Previous triennial review reports and additional information about drinking water, including where drinking water comes from and how it’s regulated, are available online at scdhec.gov/CapDev.