Public Notification

With the enactment of the Safe Drinking Water Act, Congress required that public drinking water systems notify their customers when drinking water standards are violated.  The purpose of public notification is to inform consumers of any potential adverse health effects and to describe what steps consumers can take to minimize the impact.  It should also educate the consumer about the needs of the public water system to assure the delivery of safe drinking water.

Do the public notification rules apply to my water system?

If your system is a public water system, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires your system to notify the people they serve if certain violations of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations occur


Public Notification rule is now in effect for all contaminants that require monitoring.  As new contaminants are regulated, health effects language for public notification is added. 

Types of violations requiring Public Notification

There are six violations or events that require Public Notification

  • Failure to comply with an applicable maximum contaminant level (MCL).
  • Failure to comply with a predescribed treatment technique.
  • Failure to perform water quality monitoring (testing) as required by the regulations.
  • Failure to comply with testing procedures as described by a South Dakota Drinking Water Standard.
  • Issuance of a variance or an exemption.
  • Failure to comply with the requirements of any schedule that has been set under an agreement with the department.

Notification Procedures

Notice to the public by public water systems must be made by direct home delivery within 24 hours, 30 days, or one year after being notified by the Department of the failure or violation.  The severity of the situation dictates the timeframe of the public notice. 

Actions your water system should take:

  • If your water system is informed of test results that indicate they are in violation of an Maximum Contaminant Level or are informed of another violation, they must immediately contact the State and ask their direction in proceeding with public notification (Note: the State may declare a sample invalid or require a check sample before confirming a violation).
  • A copy of each public notice along with the a Certificate of Public Notice Distribution must be sent to the Drinking Water Program within ten days of issuance.  Where the notice was made by newspaper, a copy of the actual newspaper advertisement must be sent.

Notice contents

The notice provides a clear and readily understandable explanation of the

  • violation and when it occurred
  • potential adverse health effects (mandatory health effects language)
  • population at risk
  • steps the system is taking to correct the violation
  • necessity of seeking alternative water supplies (if any)
  • preventative measures the consumer should take until the violation is corrected
  • name, address, and telephone number of water system contact person

To print a copy of the current Public Notification Handbook click on one of the following: