Fees for Public Water Systems
The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) authorizes EPA to regulate public drinking water systems. However, Congress intended states be responsible for carrying out SDWA provisions and encouraged them to take primacy of their state drinking water programs. Primacy refers to the authority of a state to carry out and enforce provisions of the SDWA. Idaho gained primacy in 1978.
The goal of Idaho's drinking water program is to protect public health by ensuring the state's public drinking water systems are safe from contamination. To attain this, DEQ provides technical assistance and support to system owners and operators and collects fees to support drinking water protection activities.
Historically, Idaho's drinking water program was funded through the state's Water Pollution Control Account. Idaho Code §39-119 authorizes DEQ to "charge and collect" fees for services. The Idaho Rules for Public Drinking Water Systems require all regulated public water systems pay an annual fee assessment. Currently, the program is funded about one-third by annual fee assessments and two-thirds from EPA.
Community and nontransient noncommunity public drinking water system owners pay an annual fee based on the number of connections* as follows:
|Number of Connections||Fee|
|1 - 20||$100|
|21 - 184||$5 per connection, not to exceed a total of $735 per system|
|185 - 3,663||$4 per connection, not to exceed a total of $10,988 per system|
|3,664 or more||$3 per connection|
* The annual fee for transient noncommunity public water systems is $25.
Services DEQ Provides to Public Water Systems
DEQ's Drinking Water Program uses funds from drinking water fees for program operating expenses, capital outlay (which includes the purchase of monitoring equipment loaned to water systems), and staff. Technical assistance includes:
- Maintaining a Public Water System (PWS) Switchboard as an informational resource to owners/operators of PWSs
- Working with system owners/operators to ensure compliance with federal requirements
- Conducting sanitary surveys (inspections) and on-site visits
- Reviewing water system plans and specifications for new water systems, extensions, and water system improvements
- Conducting training sessions for system operators
- Holding public information meetings
- Loaning specialized monitoring equipment to public water systems
- Issuing monitoring waivers when appropriate (monitoring waivers save $700–$900 per year per source)
- Providing informational updates on drinking water-related topics
- Offering assistance in preparing federally required public notifications
- Providing emergency response services to system owners requesting assistance
In addition, owners of public water systems are eligible to receive low-interest loans to upgrade their systems and protect their customers. Learn more.