The Safe Drinking
Water Act (SDWA)
SDWA is the main federal law that ensures the quality of Americans' drinking water.
SDWA gives the US Environmental Protection Agency the authority to set national standards to protect against both naturally occurring and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water.
This act does not regulate private wells that serve fewer than 25 individuals.
People drink and use water every day. Therefore, the environmental health impacts of drinking water are important. The majority of New Mexicans are provided high quality drinking water. About 90% of people in New Mexico get their water from a community drinking water system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) sets regulations for treating and monitoring drinking water delivered by community water systems. There are water quality standards and monitoring requirements for over 90 contaminants.
About 10% of New Mexicans rely on smaller water supplies, mostly household private wells, that are not regulated by the EPA or the state. Drinking water protection programs at the state and national levels play a critical role in ensuring high quality drinking water and protecting the public health.
If you have a private well, regular water quality testing is very important. Many contaminants cannot be identified by taste or odor, making it difficult for homeowners to know if the water quality of their well has changed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate private wells and many states and towns do not require periodic sampling of private wells after they are initially installed. This makes it the responsibility of homeowners to periodically test their well for contamination. Learn more about water testing and water filtration options.
Resources are available for well owners. Get the well owner guides and learn how to protect the quality of your drinking water.
The New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking program works closely with community, state, and fedeal organizations to explore connections between drinking water and health outcomes. In addition our biomonitoring program looks at arsenic and heavy metals in urine and drinking water.
Waterborne disease and organisms:
The two most common ways of getting a waterborne disease is either through drinking water or recreational water, such as swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, hot springs, lakes and streams.
The NM Department of Health and NM Environment Department work together to protect the public from waterborne diseases by examining waterborne disease and drinking water standards in the state in order to assess the safety of New Mexico’s public drinking water system.
Each week, NMDOH looks at all the following reported diseases and organisms, which are potentially waterborne, in an effort to help ensure the safety of New Mexico's public drinking water.
These diseases can also be passed through food or from person-to-person contact. Careful monitoring ensures the infections are not related to public water systems. To date, no actual infectious waterborne disease outbreaks related to public drinking water systems have been detected. Of course, the Health and Environment departments remain vigilant for any potential incidents, and monitor those areas with water systems that have had problems meeting federal drinking water quality standards.
The New Mexico Department of Health also investigates recreational water issues such as swimmer's itch and blue-green algae to prevent disease outbreaks.