regulatory process. Water systems began paying more attention to customer satisfaction and expanded their customer
information programs. All in all, the SDWA inspired the innovation and sparked the creativity that is so common today.
How would you say the SDWA impacted
SDWA gave us a new perspective on health risk, risk management, and risk reduction. Before the SDWA, the focus was
primarily on acute health risks. The SDWA opened the window
to what the effect of lifetime exposure to low concentrations
of substances in water might be. One of the things we really
began to manage better was the lifetime risk and how we
might better protect against chronic disease. It also allowed for
better surveillance and better control in water systems. If there
is a problem today, we’re going to know it much sooner and be
able to react much quicker. We’re able to make sure the public
is appropriately informed and knows what actions to take.
In this issue of Advances in Water Research, we discuss
unregulated pathogens and chemical contaminants.
What contaminants or pathogens do you think may
need to be addressed with future regulations?
Well, I think one thing that has the public’s attention is the presence of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors in the water
column. We need to continue to increase our knowledge base
in that arena and determine what risks, if any, exist. If such risks
do exist, how do we better manage them? The other area we
need to pay more attention to is water quality in the distribution system and on the customer’s premises. We can produce
the greatest water in the world at the water treatment plants,
but it’s what is delivered to the customer that really counts.
What do you think the SDWA has done in terms of
elevating the position and the importance of the
I believe it has raised the visibility and value of this industry
to a national level. Utilities realized how important it was
to have good information programs for customers. It was
important that customers know what the issues are and how
they were being addressed. It’s very hard to get the attention
of customers. There’s a barrage of information coming from
all over. But we have stepped up our capability for doing
that, and the way we deliver information has improved.
Where do you see the SDWA moving forward?
The SDWA really started a new era in the drinking water
community in particular. I would term it revolutionary. The
revolution did not happen instantaneously, but it started a
movement. That movement is what the SDWA will hopefully
continue to encourage. We need to continue to track the
trends in the environments we operate in, not only the physi-
cal environment, but also the business environment. What is
happening in industry? What products and waste streams is
industry creating? What are customer attitudes and percep-
tions, and how are they changing? In the end, regulation must
first be built on sound science. Then, we can focus on how
regulations can be developed to effectively respond to that
sound science, so we truly advance the interests of consumers.