Drinking Water in Idaho
DEQ's Drinking Water Program protects public health by ensuring drinking water from public water systems (PWS) in Idaho is safe. DEQ is authorized to administer Idaho's Drinking Water Program through the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and the Idaho Rules for Public Drinking Water Systems (IDAPA 58.01.08). Approximately 95% of Idahoans rely on ground water for drinking water. Surface water, such as streams, rivers, reservoirs, and springs, supplies the remaining 5%.
In Idaho, some 1,960 public drinking water systems serve Idaho's population. PWSs, which may be publicly or privately owned, serve at least 25 people or 15 service connections for at least 60 days per year. Many other Idaho citizens get their drinking water from private wells. These wells are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act; well owners are responsible for ensuring their water is safe.
The PWS Switchboard is a quick and easy way for PWS owners and operators to access a wide range of information relevant to water system operation in Idaho. It features quick links to state and federal rules, monitoring schedules, plans and specifications, public notification templates, sanitary survey forms, drinking water system classification requirements, operator licensing, reporting tools, and operator hiring information. Access the PWS Switchboard here.
Types of Public Water Systems in Idaho
A PWS is a system for the provision of water to the public for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances, if such system has at least 15 service connections or regularly serves an average of at least 25 individuals at least 60 days out of the year. Learn about the three types of PWSs in Idaho.
PWS Licensure and Classification
Two sets of state rules govern the licensure and classification of PWSs and operators in Idaho—the Idaho Rules for Public Drinking Water Systems and Rules of the Board of Drinking Water and Wastewater Professionals. DEQ, the board, and system operators all play a key role in ensuring Idaho's drinking water is safe. Learn more.
- Public Water System Classifications
- Public Water System Supervision Requirements
- Drinking Water Operator Resources
Revised Total Coliform Rule
Idaho adopted the federal Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR). The RTCR replaces the 1989 Total Coliform Rule and applies to all regulated public drinking water systems. Learn more.
Fees Paid by Public Water Systems
Public drinking water systems in Idaho are assessed a fee based upon the number of connections. The fees are used to ensure safe drinking water for Idahoans through support of the state's drinking water program, which provides technical support and assistance to PWSs. Learn more.
Monitoring and Reporting by Public Water Systems
PWSs are required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to monitor their water for certain regulated contaminants and to report the monitoring results to the states. Standards on what contaminants must be monitored for and how often monitoring must take place are set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Monitoring of certain unregulated contaminants is required as well. Learn more.
- Contaminants in Drinking Water
- Monitoring Schedule Report Tool
- Monitoring Waivers for Public Water Systems
- Laboratory Analysis of Drinking Water Samples
- Consumer Confidence Reporting Requirements for Public Water Systems
- Public Notification Requirements for Public Water Systems
- Sanitary Surveys
- PWS Change of Ownership or Contact Address
- Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule – Source Water Monitoring for Public Water Systems Serving <10,000
Tips and Guidance for Public Water Systems
In cooperation with the state's seven public health districts, DEQ provides a variety of technical assistance to public drinking water systems. DEQ works with systems to ensure compliance with minimum state requirements, conducts sanitary surveys and on-site visits, reviews water system plans and specifications, issues monitoring waivers, conducts training sessions, and holds public information meetings. Learn more.
- Pollution Prevention for Public Water Systems
- Guidance and Fact Sheets for Public Water Systems
- Compliance with Disinfection Byproducts Rules
- Water Sampling Resources
Drinking Water Health Advisories
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops health advisories to provide information on contaminants that can cause human health effects and are known (or anticipated) to occur in drinking water. Health advisories are non-enforceable technical guidelines. Learn more.
Revised Total Coliform Rule
Idaho adopted the federal Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR), which went into effect April 1, 2016. The RTCR replaced the 1989 Total Coliform Rule and applies to all regulated public drinking water systems. Learn more.
Drinking Water Protection
Drinking water protection is a voluntary effort a community can implement to help prevent contamination of the source water that supplies its PWS. The effort may involve creating a source water/drinking water protection plan and implementing regulatory and/or nonregulatory management practices. Learn more.
Learn more about emergency preparedness and what you should do if you believe a suspected or intentional contamination or intrusion has occurred at your PWS or facility here.
The drinking water capacity development program helps public drinking water systems improve or optimize their technical, managerial, and financial framework so they can sustainably provide safe drinking water to their customers in a cost-effective manner. Learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions for Water Users
Is my drinking water safe? My drinking water smells bad—what should I do? How can I get my water tested? Is bottled water safer than tap water? Find answers to drinking water questions here.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound derived from fluorine, the 13th most abundant element on Earth. It is found in many rocks and minerals in the soil and enters drinking water as water passes through these soils. Very few public water systems in Idaho add fluoride to the drinking water in a process known as fluoridation. Learn more.
Drinking Water Advisory Committee
The Drinking Water Advisory Committee (DWAC) is a standing committee appointed by DEQ's director to provide guidance and advice on issues related to safe drinking water policy and programs. The committee is composed of a cross-section of representatives from large and small water systems, the drinking water industry, and elected officials. The DWAC meets on an as-needed basis. Learn more.