Public Notification Requirements

Definitions

Direct delivery means hand delivery, or publication in a municipal newsletter that is delivered to all bill-paying customers. With written permission from the State, direct delivery may include publication in a local paper (e.g. Penny Saver, Free Trader) that is delivered to all bill-paying customers. To receive permission, the supplier of water must also issue notice that it plans on using the local paper for issuing drinking water public notifications. This notice must be delivered by mail or hand delivered to each customer receiving a bill, and to other service connections to which water is delivered by the public water system.

Public health hazard means an existing or imminent condition which can be responsible for or cause illness, injury or death and for which immediate corrective or remedial action is required. Public health hazards include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. an Escherichia coli (E. coli) MCL violation, or failure to test for E. coli after any repeat sample tests positive for coliform;
  2. a nitrate/nitrite MCL violation, or failure to take a confirmation sample within 24 hours for nitrate or nitrite after an initial sample exceeds the MCL;
  3. an acute maximum residual disinfectant level (MRDL) violation for chlorine dioxide (i.e., if any daily sample taken at the entrance to the distribution system exceeds 0.8 mg/L, and on the following day one or more samples taken in the distribution system exceeds 0.8 mg/L), or failure to take the required samples in the distribution system the day after the MRDL is exceeded at the entry point;
  4. the following turbidity violations or exceedances when determined to be a public health hazard by the State:
    1. a violation of the two-day average maximum allowable turbidity at the entry point pursuant to section 5-1.52 table 4 of Subpart 5-1 of the State Sanitary Code;
    2. a violation resulting from a single exceedance of the maximum allowable turbidity for filter effluent pursuant to section 5-1.52 table 4A of Subpart 5-1 of the State Sanitary Code; and
    3. a single raw water turbidity exceedance of 5 NTU for systems operating under the avoidance criteria in section 5-1.30 of Subpart 5-1 of the State Sanitary Code.
  5. use of an unapproved or contaminated water supply source;
  6. insufficient quantity of water to meet drinking or sanitary demands;
  7. hazardous or toxic chemical contamination;
  8. disinfection which is inadequate to destroy harmful microorganisms or to maintain a specified chlorine residual;
  9. disruption of water service of four hours or more, determined to be a public health hazard by the State;
  10. cross-connections of sufficient hazard to adversely affect the health of a water consumer; and
  11. any other conditions, including a waterborne disease outbreak, determined to be a public health hazard by the Commissioner.

Public notification means disseminating information about a problem with a public water system in a form and manner consistent with this guidance.

Tier 1 notification means the category for public notifications that are required within 24 hours of learning of a public health hazard.

Tier 2 notification means the category for public notifications that are required within 30 days of learning of a violation or situation with the potential to have serious adverse effects on human health after long-term exposure, such as most MCL, MRDL and treatment technique violations that are not public health hazards.

Tier 3 notification means the category for public notifications that are required within one year of learning of a less serious violation or situation that does not require a Tier 1 or Tier 2 notification, such as most monitoring violations.

Public Notification Requirements

General public notification requirements

Each owner or operator of a public water system must provide public notification for public health hazards, for all MCL, MRDL, treatment technique, monitoring and testing procedure violations, and for other situations posing a risk to public health. Public notification requirements are divided into three tiers to take into account the seriousness of the violation or situation and any potential adverse health effects that may be involved. The form, manner, frequency, and other requirements for each tier are described in this guidance. The table titled Required Notifications lists the required public notification (Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3) for specific violations and other situations posing a risk to public health.

Consecutive systems. Public water systems that sell or otherwise provide drinking water to other public systems (i.e., to consecutive systems) are required to give public notice to the owner or operator of the consecutive system; the consecutive system is responsible for providing public notification to the persons it serves.

Limited notice distribution. If a public water system can show that a violation in a portion of the distribution system is physically isolated from other parts of the distribution system, then with written permission from the State the system may limit the notice to only persons served by that portion of the system that is out of compliance.

Certification. The public water system, within 10 days of completing the public notification requirements under this Subpart for the initial public notification and any repeat notices, must submit to the State a certification that it has fully complied with the public notification regulations. The public water system must include with this certification a representative copy of each type of notice distributed, published, posted, and made available to the persons served by the system and to the media. Copies of public notices and certificates issued pursuant to this paragraph must be kept by the supplier of water for three years after issuance.

Contents of a public notification

When a public water system has a violation or a situation posing a risk to public health, other than operating under a variance or exemption, the public notification must include the following elements:

  1. a description of the violation or situation, including the contaminant of concern, and (as applicable) the contaminant level;
  2. when the violation or situation occurred;
  3. any potential adverse health effects from the violation or situation, including any applicable standard language;
  4. the population at risk, including subpopulations particularly vulnerable if exposed to the contaminant in their drinking water;
  5. whether alternative water supplies should be used;
  6. what actions consumers should take, including when they should seek medical help, if known;
  7. what the system is doing to correct the violation or situation;
  8. when the water system expects to return to compliance;
  9. the phone number of the water system owner, operator, or designee of the public water system as a source of additional information concerning the notice;
  10. the phone number of the county or district health department which has jurisdiction over the water system; and
  11. a statement included in notices distributed by mail or direct delivery to encourage the notice recipient to distribute the public notice to other persons served, using item (3) of the standard language.

When a public water system operates under a variance or exemption, each public notice must include the following elements:

  1. an explanation of the reasons for the variance or exemption;
  2. the date on which the variance or exemption was issued;
  3. a brief status report on the steps the system is taking to install treatment, find alternative sources of water, or otherwise comply with the terms and schedules of the variance or exemption; and
  4. a notice of any opportunity for public input in the review of the variance or exemption.

Notice presentation

Each public notice required by this section:

  1. must be displayed in a conspicuous way (where applicable);
  2. must not contain overly technical language or very small print;
  3. must not be formatted in a way that defeats the purpose of the notice;
  4. must not contain language which nullifies the purpose of the notice; and
  5. must contain information for non-English speaking consumers, where appropriate. For systems serving a large proportion of non-English speaking consumers, as determined by the State, the notice must contain information prescribed by the State in the appropriate language(s) expressing the importance of the notice.

Standard Language

  1. Mandatory health effects language must be included in the notification for MCL and MRDL violations, treatment technique violations, and violations of the condition of a variance or exemption. The mandatory health effects language will be developed by the Department and provided to the supplier of water by the State.
  2. Standard language for monitoring and testing procedure violations. Public water systems must include the following language in their notice, including the language necessary to fill in the blanks, for all monitoring and testing procedure violations listed in the Required Notifications table: We are required to monitor your drinking water for specific contaminants on a regular basis. Results of regular monitoring are an indicator of whether or not your drinking water meets health standards. During (compliance period), we "did not monitor or test" or "did not complete all monitoring or testing" for (contaminant(s)), and therefore cannot be sure of the quality of your drinking water during that time.
  3. Standard language to encourage distribution of the public notice to all persons served, when the notice is distributed by mail or direct delivery: Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

Tier 1 notification requirements

Tier 1 notification requirements (public health hazards require Tier 1 notification). The supplier of water must:

  1. provide public notification no later than 24 hours after the system learns of a public health hazard;
  2. initiate consultation with the State no later than 24 hours after the public water system learns of the public health hazard, and comply with any additional notification requirements established as a result of the consultation (including using additional forms of delivery for the initial notification, the duration of the posted notices, or any repeat notices);
  3. notify by telephone the chief administrative or elected official of the city, village or town, wherein the public water system is located, and the local law enforcement department having jurisdiction in the area served by the public water system, that a public health hazard exists. If there is a potential for the public health hazard to cross political boundaries, all potentially impacted chief administrative or elected officials and local law enforcement departments in the political subdivisions, served by the public water system, must also be notified; and
  4. provide the notice in a form and manner reasonably calculated to reach all persons served (including residential, transient, and non-transient users) in the required time period. Water systems are to use one or more of the following forms of delivery:
    1. appropriate broadcast media (such as radio and television);
    2. posting of the notice in conspicuous locations throughout the area served by the water system;
    3. hand delivery of the notice to persons served by the water system; or
    4. another delivery method approved in writing by the State.

Tier 2 notification requirements

  1. The supplier of water must provide public notification no later than 30 days after the system learns of a violation or situation that requires Tier 2 notification.
  2. The supplier of water must repeat the notice every three months as long as the violation or situation persists. If the public notice is posted, the notice must remain in place as long as the violation or situation persists, but in no case less than seven days.
  3. For the turbidity violations or exceedances specified in paragraphs (i)-(iii) below, the supplier of water must consult with the State no later than 24 hours after the public water system learns of the violation to determine whether a Tier 1 notification is required to protect public health. When consultation does not take place within the 24-hour period, the water system must distribute a Tier 1 notification no later than 48 hours after the system learns of the violation or exceedance. Consultation with the State is required for:
    1. a violation of the two-day average maximum allowable turbidity at the entry point pursuant to section 5-1.52 table 4 of Subpart 5-1 of the State Sanitary Code;
    2. a violation resulting from a single exceedance of the maximum allowable turbidity for filter effluent pursuant to section 5-1.52 table 4A of Subpart 5-1 of the State Sanitary Code; and
    3. a single raw water turbidity exceedance of 5 NTU for systems operating under the avoidance criteria in section 5-1.30 of Subpart 5-1 of the State Sanitary Code.
  4. The supplier of water must provide the notice in a form and manner reasonably calculated to reach all persons served in the required time period.
    1. Unless directed otherwise by the State in writing, community water systems must provide notice by: mail or other direct delivery to each customer receiving a bill, and to other service connections to which water is delivered by the public water system; and by any other method reasonably calculated to reach other persons regularly served by the system if they would not normally be reached by mail or direct delivery.

      Other methods may include: Publication in a local newspaper; delivery of multiple copies for distribution by customers that provide their drinking water to others (e.g., apartment building owners or large private employers); posting in public places or on the Internet; or delivery to community organizations.

    2. Unless directed otherwise by the State in writing, non-community water systems must provide notice by posting the notice in conspicuous locations, and by any other method(s) reasonably calculated to reach other persons served by the system if they would not normally be reached by posting.

      Other methods may include: Publication in a local newspaper or newsletter distributed to customers; use of E-mail to notify employees or students; or, delivery of multiple copies in central locations (e.g., community centers).

Tier 3 notification requirements

  1. The supplier of water must provide public notification no later than one year after the system learns of a violation or situation that requires Tier 3 notification.
  2. The supplier of water must repeat the notice annually for as long as the violation or situation persists. If the public notice is posted, the notice must remain in place as long as the violation or situation persists, but in no case less than seven days.
  3. The supplier of water may use a single public notice for multiple violations or situations that require Tier 3 notification, as long as the timing requirements are met. Community water systems may use the annual water quality report to provide Tier 3 notification.
  4. The supplier of water must provide the initial notice and any repeat notices in a form and manner reasonably calculated to reach all persons served in the required time period.
    1. Unless directed otherwise by the State in writing, community water systems must provide notice by: mail or other direct delivery to each customer receiving a bill, and to other service connections to which water is delivered by the public water system; and by any other method reasonably calculated to reach other persons served by the system if they would not normally be reached by mail or direct delivery.

      Other methods may include: Publication in a local newspaper; delivery of multiple copies for distribution by customers that provide their drinking water to others (e.g., apartment building owners or large private employers); posting in public places or on the Internet; or delivery to community organizations.

    2. Unless directed otherwise by the State in writing, non-community water systems must provide notice by posting the notice in conspicuous locations, and by any other method(s) reasonably calculated to reach other persons served by the system if they would not normally be reached by posting.

      Other methods may include: Publication in a local newspaper or newsletter distributed to customers; use of E-mail to notify employees or students; or, delivery of multiple copies in central locations (e.g., community centers).

Special Notices

Notice to new billing units or new customers

Community water systems must give a copy of the most recent public notice for any continuing violation, the existence of a variance or exemption, or other ongoing situations requiring a public notice to all new billing units or new customers prior to or at the time service begins.

Notice by the State on behalf of the public water system

The State may make public notification if the State determines that the public's interest will be best served, or if the State determines that the supplier of water is not acting or cannot act in a timely manner. The State may charge and collect from the supplier of water the cost of making such notification. However, the supplier of water remains legally responsible for ensuring that public notification requirements are met.

Information on unregulated contaminants

Community water systems that are required by EPA to monitor for unregulated contaminants, must include information in their Annual Water Quality Report that identifies a person and telephone number to contact for information on the monitoring results.

Nontransient noncommunity water systems that are required by EPA to monitor for unregulated contaminants, must post a notice that identifies a person and telephone number to contact for information on the monitoring results. The notice must be posted in conspicuous locations and no later than 12 months after the results are known.

Special notification for fluoride exceedances above the secondary maximum contaminant level

Community water systems that detect fluoride at levels above 2 mg/l, but less than or equal to the MCL must include in its annual water quality report a short informational statement about fluoride, using language prescribed by the State.

Special notification for permitted nitrate exceedances above the MCL by noncommunity water systems

The State may permit a nitrate MCL of 20 mg/L at noncommunity water systems if the supplier of water demonstrates that:

  1. a notice that nitrate levels exceed 10 mg/L and the potential health effects of exposure will be continuously posted according to the requirements of a Tier 1 notification;
  2. the water will not be available to children under six months of age;
  3. the State will be notified annually of nitrate levels that exceed 10 mg/L; and
  4. no adverse health effects shall result.

Required Notification Table

Contaminant/Situation
(Subpart 5-1 citations)
Single sample exceeds MCL/MRDL MCL/MRDL/TT1 violation Failure to meet monitoring requirements and/or failure to use applicable testing procedure
Public Health Hazard (see definition) Not applicable State
Tier 1
State
Tier 1
Escherichia coli (E. coli)
(section 5-1.52 tables 6 and 11)
2State
Not applicable, or 3Tier 1
State
Tier 1
State
4Tier 3 or Tier 1
Total Coliform
(section 5-1.52 tables 6 and 11)
Not applicable 14State
5Tier 2 or Tier 1
State
Tier 3
Entry Point Turbidity
monthly average
(section 5-1.52 tables 4 and 10)
7State State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
Entry Point Turbidity
two-day average
(section 5-1.52 tables 4 and 10)
State State
8Tier 2 or Tier 1
State
Tier 3
Raw Water Turbidity
Single exceedance of 5 NTU
(section 5-1.30(d) and section 5-1.52 table 10A)
State State
8Tier 2 or Tier 1
State
Tier 3
Filtered Water Turbidity
Single exceedance of the maximum allowable Turbidity level
(section 5-1.52 tables 4A and 10A)
State State
8Tier 2 or Tier 1
State
Tier 3
Filtered Water Turbidity
Treatment Technique violation
(section 5-1.52 tables 4A and 10A)
Not applicable State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
Distribution Point Turbidity
(section 5-1.52 tables 5, 10 and 10A)
Not applicable State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
9Treatment Technique violations
other than turbidity
(section 5-1.30)
Not applicable State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
10Free chlorine residual less than
0.2 mg/L at the entry point
( subdivision 5-1.30(d))
Not applicable State Not applicable
Inorganic chemicals and physical characteristics listed in Tables 8A and 8B
(section 5-1.52 tables 1, 8A, and 8B)
State State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
chloride, iron, manganese, silver, sulfate, and zinc
(section 5-1.52 tables 1 and 8D)
Not applicable State
Tier 3
State
Tier 3
Sodium
(section 5-1.52 tables 1 and 8D)
State if the level exceeds 20 mg/L Tier 2
if the level exceeds 270 mg/L
Tier 3
Nitrate
Nitrite
Total Nitrate and Nitrite
(section 5-1.52 tables 2 and 8C)
State State
Tier 1
State
11Tier 1 or Tier 3
Lead and Copper
(sections 5-1.40 to 1.49)
Not applicable State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
Organic Chemicals
Group 1 and 2
(section 5-1.52 table 9C)
State State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
Principal Organic Contaminants
Unspecified Organic Contaminants
Total POCs and UOCs
State State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
Radiological Contaminants
(section 5-1.52 tables 7 and 12)
State State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
Monitoring and Control of Disinfection Byproduct Precursors
(section 5-1.60 to 5-1.64)
Not applicable State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
Disinfectant residuals Chlorine and Chloramine
(section 5-1.52 tables 3A and 15)
State State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
Disinfectant residual
Chlorine dioxide
At entry point
(section 5-1.52 tables 3A and 15)
State State
Tier 2
State
12Tier 3 or Tier 2
Disinfectant residual
Chlorine dioxide
In distribution system
(section 5-1.52 tables 3A and 15)
State State
13Tier 1
State
13Tier 1
Disinfection byproducts
Trihalomethanes
Haloacetic acids
(Tables 3 and 9A) and
Bromate and Chlorite
(section 5-1.52 tables 1 and 8B)
Not applicable State
Tier 2
State
Tier 3
Acrylamide and Epichlorohydrin
(subdivision 5-1.51(j))
Not applicable State
Tier 2
Not applicable
Operation under a variance or exemption Not applicable Tier 3 Not applicable
Violation of conditions of a variance or exemption Not applicable State
Tier 2
Not applicable
Disruption of water service of four hours or more
(subdivision 5-1.23(b))
Not applicable State Not applicable

1MCL-maximum contaminant level, MRDL-maximum residual disinfectant level, TT-treatment technique

2State notification must be made by the supplier of water within 24 hours of learning of an E. coli positive sample.

3Public notification normally does not have to be issued for an E. coli positive sample prior to the results of the repeat samples. However, there may be situations where the State determines that a Tier 1 notification is necessary to protect the public health. The supplier of water must provide the Tier 1 notification no later than 24 hours after learning of the State's determination.

4Failure to test for E. coli requires a Tier 1 notification if testing is not done after any repeat sample tests positive for coliform. All other E. coli monitoring and testing procedure violations require Tier 3 notification.

5Tier 2 notification is required, unless the State determines that a Tier 1 notification is necessary to protect the public health. The supplier of water must provide the Tier 1 notification no later than 24 hours after learning of the State's determination.

6Reserved for future note.

7If the daily entry point analysis exceeds one NTU, a repeat sample must be taken as soon as practicable and preferably within one hour. If the repeat sample exceeds one NTU, the supplier of water must make state notification.

8Systems must consult with the State within 24 hours after learning of the violation or exceedance. Based on this consultation, the State may subsequently decide to elevate the violation or exceedance from a Tier 2 to a Tier 1 notification. If consultation does not take place within the 24-hour period, the water system must distribute a Tier 1 notification no later than 48 hours after the system learns of the violation or exceedance.

9These violations include the following: failure to comply with the treatment technique or monitoring requirements in paragraphs 5-1.30(b), (c), and (g) of this Subpart; failure to comply with the avoidance criteria in paragraph 5-1.30(c) of this Subpart; and failure to install filtration or disinfection treatment facilities required by section 5-1.30 of this Subpart; failure to report to the State information required in paragraph (3) of Subdivision 5-1.72(c) of this subpart; and failure to maintain records required in paragraph (7) of Subdivision 5-1.72(c) of this subpart.

10Applies to systems that have surface water or groundwater directly influenced by surface water as a source and use chlorine. The system must make State notification whether the residual was restored to at least 0.2 mg/L within four hours.

11Failure to take a confirmation sample within 24 hours for nitrate or nitrite after an initial sample exceeds the MCL requires a Tier 1 notification. Other monitoring violations for nitrate or nitrite require a Tier 3 notification.

12Failure to monitor for chlorine dioxide at the entrance to the distribution system the day after exceeding the MRDL at the entrance to the distribution system requires a Tier 2 notification. Other monitoring violations for chlorine dioxide at the entrance to the distribution system require a Tier 3 notification.

13If any daily sample taken at the entrance to the distribution system exceeds the MRDL for chlorine dioxide and one or more samples taken in the distribution system the next day exceed the MRDL, Tier 1 notification is required. Failure to take the required samples in the distribution system the day after the MRDL is exceeded at the entry point also triggers Tier 1 notification.

14State notification must be made by the supplier of water within 24 hours of learning of the violation.