Response and compliance with EPA’s Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3)

As a leader in water and wastewater services, Spartanburg Water is on the cutting edge of safety and innovation in the science of drinking water. In coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control (DHEC), Spartanburg Water is supporting a project that requires the collection of data for as-yet unregulated contaminants. Every five years the EPA is required to develop a new list of up to 30 potential unregulated contaminants for which public water systems must monitor. The purpose of the project is to determine if these unregulated potential contaminants are present in sources that supply the nation’s drinking water. The testing also provides information on how often these substances are found and at what concentrations they occur. These substances are outlined in the EPA’s Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3).

To view our 2014 Water Quality Reports, as well as a fact sheet about Chromium6, plus the posted results from UCMR3 monitoring, please visit the following links:

1. To help advance the science of drinking water, Spartanburg Water, along with many water systems across the country, has launched its third round of tests for new contaminants that have yet to be regulated by the EPA.

  • Under the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the EPA is required once every five years to issue a new list of up to 30 unregulated contaminants for which community water systems must monitor.

  • UCMR3 was enacted in January 2014.

  • The intent of this rule is to provide useful data that the EPA can combine with toxicological research to make decisions about potential future drinking water regulations. The data assist the EPA in determining whether or not to regulate those contaminants listed in UCMR3.

  • Spartanburg Water has been a trusted leader in our community for more than 100 years. Our commitment to your safety—and the quality of our drinking water—is our number one priority.

  • From the EPA’s total number of 30 contaminants listed on the UCMR3, only four were detected during Spartanburg Water’s testing.

  • Three of those elements—Vanadium, Strontium and Hexavalent Chromium—are naturally occurring in the environment. The fourth substance, Chlorate, is a by-product of an EPA-approved water treatment process that protects customers from bacterial and microbial contaminants.

  • Initial testing has shown these contaminants to be present in extremely low concentrations in our water supply.

  • Of the nearly 60 contaminants that the EPA required utilities to test in the first two rounds of UCMR implementation, none were detected in Spartanburg Water sources.

2. All substances that showed up in our initial testing were at very low levels.

  • Vanadium levels were less than one part per billion.

  • Strontium levels were at 40 parts per billion.

  • Hexavalent chromium levels were at 0.5 parts per billion.

  • An easier way to understand the concept of a “part per billion” is to consider it in the context of a few examples. A part per billion is also:

    • 1 penny in 10 million dollars

    • 1 second in 32 years

    • 1 foot of a trip to the moon

    • 1 blade of grass on a football field

    • 1 drop of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool

  • Water systems around the country also reported results for these constituents.

  • 1,430 out of 1,432 water systems who tested for Strontium reported a result.

  • 1,100 out of 1,432 water systems who tested for Vanadium reported a result.

  • 1,319 out of 1,462 water systems who tested for Hexavalent Chromium reported a result.

  • 989 out of 1,449 water systems who tested for Chlorate reported a result.

3. Spartanburg Water’s mission challenges us to integrate scientific advances into our day-to-day practices for the protection of your drinking water.

  • Although testing for these contaminants is mandated by the EPA, Spartanburg Water enforces its own self-imposed set of rigorous standards to ensure the safety of drinking water sources.

  • Due to significant advances in diagnostic equipment, research resulting from the latest round of UCMR3 was also a test of our ability to detect very small traces of these substances.

  • We have a dedicated team of highly trained water treatment operators, laboratory analysts and technicians who are continually monitoring your drinking water to keep it safe from contamination and other environmental hazards.

  • UCMR3 supports Spartanburg Water’s strategic direction by providing us with the necessary tools and guidance to prepare for emerging water quality concerns.

  • As the science behind the diagnostic testing of water continues to advance, Spartanburg Water is better equipped to detect extremely low traces of these elements, thus allowing us the appropriate time to develop methods to prepare for the continued protection of your water resources.

4. Important regulatory decisions will be made as a result of Spartanburg Water’s participation in UCMR3.

  • EPA will evaluate the information gathered, as well as potential health effects studies, to determine if regulatory limits are needed.

  • Collecting information about the occurrence of these compounds in water supplies is the first step in the EPA’s efforts to determine whether they should be regulated. Regulation would occur in 2016.

  • As regulatory decisions are made, Spartanburg Water will share updates with the public.

  • Spartanburg Water is committed to ensuring compliance with the strict standards set by EPA, DHEC and our own local leadership and protecting the health of its dedicated customers.

5. Your drinking water meets or surpasses all federal and state standards for drinking water. Spartanburg Water does not see the potential for any health risks associated with these findings.

  • The presence of a compound does not necessarily mean there is a health risk. The concentration of a compound is a far more important factor in determining potential health implications.

  • Our utility is committed to protecting public health and meets or surpasses all state and federal health standards for tap water.

  • We will closely monitor both the concentrations of these compounds and the EPA’s health studies and will keep you informed of developments.

  • Should the EPA ultimately determine that regulation is warranted, we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect the health of our customers.

6. Education and transparency are the lifeblood of our continuing commitment to water quality and water literacy.

  • Spartanburg Water will publish and distribute fact sheets, frequently asked questions and detailed information about UCMR3 to its customers, stakeholders and the public.

  • Our Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) will be published in May and includes both data from UCMR3 and an explanation of why the data are being collected. CCRs from previous years can also be made available upon request.

  • We believe that proactively sharing information about water quality drives continuous improvement in quality and enhances your trust in us.

Unregulated contaminants are those that do not have a drinking water standard set by EPA. EPA is required by the Safe Drinking Water Act to identify every five years a list of potential contaminants, make a rule for water systems to test for them, and then make a decision whether regulation is necessary. As part of the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3(UCMR3), DHEC recently tested Spartanburg Water’s source and finished water for 28 unregulated contaminants that had not been monitored before. Twenty-five of the contaminants under review were not detected, but three were detected. The levels measured are included in this report.