Assuring Safe Drinking Water
Surveys conducted in 1992 found that one in six Floridians drank water from systems that did not meet all of the then current drinking water standards. Many of these water systems served small communities and private homes.
In 1993, based on these survey findings and increasing public concern about environmental contamination, Florida regulations were extended to provide standards for small drinking water systems, which is the primary concern of the county health department.
Now assuring safe drinking water is included as a vital concern in for Florida's future. The focus of Chapter 64E-8, F.A.C., is to ensure safe drinking water from private, multifamily, and limited use public water systems. Florida still retains much of its rural character -- 20% of Florida citizens (over 2.7 million) obtain drinking water from private or limited use systems.
The primary risk to small water systems is contamination from nitrate, lead, and bacteria. Chapter 64E-8, F. A. C., rules have been written to protect our most vulnerable citizens -- the very young, the very old, persons with immune deficiencies, and also tenants, visitors, customers, and workers who have no control of the quality of the water they drink in an establishment. There are other other risks as well.
A private water system serves one or two residences. Only one of these residences may be rented. If more than one residence on the same well is rented, including both sides of a duplex, then the water system must be regulated as a limited use community public water system.
A multifamily water system serves three or four water systems. There are different construction standards for a multifamily water system. Only one of the residences may be rented. If more than one residence on the same well is rented, then the water system must be regulated as a limited use community public water system.
A limited use community public water system serves up to 15 connections or less than 25 people who are in residence at least 60 days per year.
A limited use commercial public water system serves a commercial establishment that provides potable water for public consumption less than 60 days per year and has fewer than 25 employees. The term "establishment" includes businesses, home day care centers for children and adults, churches, and social and fraternal organizations. Limited Use Commercial Water systems may be registered or permitted depending on whether or not they are a source of water for public consumption.
Chapter 64E-8, F.A.C., sets standards for private and limited use water system construction and operations. It establishes registration requirements and fees, and sets maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for lead, nitrate, and bacteria.
Chapter 64E-8, F.A.C., rules have been written to protect our most vulnerable citizens -- the very young, the very old, persons with immune deficiencies, and also tenants, visitors, customers, and workers who have no control of the quality of the water they drink in an establishment
Water Quality Standards
The Maximum Contamination Level (MCL) for lead is 0.015 mg/L. A sample collected for lead analysis must be collected from the first flush of an indoor tap where water has been standing in the pipe for at least six hours.
The MCL for nitrate, is 10 mg/L.
A total Coliform MCL violation occurs when total Coliform bacteria are present in any compliance and repeat analysis sample.
A fecal Coliform MCL violation occurs when a fecal Coliform bacteria or Escherichia coli are present in any compliance or repeat analysis sample if the repeat test also shows the presence of Coliform bacteria.
If Coliform bacteria are present in the initial compliance sample, the water system supplier must collect a repeat sample on the next business day following notification of the presence of Coliform bacteria.
LU community systems must collect routine monitoring samples for lead and nitrate every 36 months.
LU commercial systems must collect routine monitoring samples for lead and nitrate every 60 months.
The department may require annual monitoring for three years if MCLs are exceeded for lead or nitrate.
LU community and commercial systems must collect at least one remote sample of finished water for total and fecal Coliform analysis every calendar quarter.
For systems where disinfection is used, a source sample must also be collected on the same day as the finished sample.
The department may increase bacterial monitoring frequency to monthly if the water supply or system has a recent history of intermittent unsatisfactory results. This requirement may be continued as long as analysis results are intermittently unsatisfactory
The results of all analysis must be reported to the department within five days of receipt from the laboratory.
Additional analysis for other potential contaminants other than lead, nitrate and bacteria may be required if the water system well is located in a delineated area regulated by DEP or the well is located within 1000-feet of a contaminated well or other known source of contamination.
The water system supplier may request the department staff to collect monitoring compliance samples. The fee is $40 per visit, plus any local fees, plus the cost of the laboratory analysis. There may also be a fee for shipping.
System inspections are conducted to inspect new system construction, when a violation is suspected, or as a follow-up inspection to check violations cited during a sanitary survey. A sanitary survey is an on-site evaluation of either a SWDA or Chapter 64 E-8, F. A. C., water system's capacity to produce and distribute potable water. Permitted Chapter 64-8, F. A. C., water systems require an annual sanitary survey. A sanitary survey evaluates:
1. The water source location:
- the casing depth, age, and condition the condition of the concrete apron.
- if the upper well seal is water-tight whether the lower casing is in sand or rock.
- if the annular space is sealed
2. Potential contaminant sources:
- sewage treatment plants and spray fields
- farms and animal holding lots
- petroleum or hazardous chemical or waste facilities
- dumps or landfills
- pesticide or fertilizer application sites
- sink holes and improperly abandoned wells
3. System construction, operation, maintenance, treatment, and distribution:
- lines and tanks -- e.g., leaks, rust, water-logged tanks
- chlorinator lines
- electrical connections
- remote pressure - - 20 psi at peak flow
- security and accessibility of equipment
4. Population served and consumption uses.
- What is the population served and vulnerability -- immunity deficient, infants, elderly, non-English-speaking, illiterate, institutionalized?
- monitoring compliance
- recorded complaints
Systems in operation in 1992 or in prior years may meet less stringent requirements than those constructed since that time. The survey must state required corrective actions for deficiencies noted during the survey and the date by which the corrections must be made.