The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) & The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

January 4, 2011 President Obama signed legislation revising the definition of “lead free” within the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). the tolerated lead content level was drastically reduced to a mere 0.25% per weighted average. This steep decline in acceptable levels of this hazardous contaminant impacted all manufactures and distributors of joining and sealing components.

A grace period of 36 months was granted to allow all entities working within the potable water industry to change their inventory over to a material that meets the new stricter Safe Drinking Water Act Standards.

January 4, 2014 – President Obama’s legislation went into full effect, ending the grace period. As of that date, it has been illegal to introduce products into commerce for drinking water applications UNLESS they are tested and meet the new version of the lead-free standard. Standard rubber compounds used in the gaskets and seals in potable water applications must be proven to prevent leaching of harmful cantaminents prior to installation.

Applications Impacted

* Public drinking water distribution including water storage tanks and reservoirs, water meters and all individual components.

* Joining and sealing materials (gaskets, adhesives, and lubricants)

* Mechanical devices (water meters, valves, and filters).

* Pipes and related products (Hose and fittings).

* Plumbing devices (fauscets and drinking fountains).

* Process media (filter media and ion exchange resins).

* Non-metallic potable water materials.

* Fire Hydrants: the NSF international joint committee on drinking water additives- System Components and the NSF Council of Public Health Consultants (CPHC) approved the removal of the 15- year exclusion on fire hydrants from the scope of the NSF / ANSI Standard 61. Fire Hydrants can now be certified NSF / ANSI Standard 61.

Risk Assessment

There are over 155,000 public water systems in the United States. More than 286 million Americans drink water from a community system daily. Water safety concerns are at an all time high.

The Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory enforcement is mandated by each state through the EPA. In recent years the public has become more aware of the potential hazards of inferior drinking water quality; hence stricter and more refined test procedures are constantly pursued and developed. The result is reduced liability for manufacturers and distributors of products that are tested and labelled as meeting these standards. The flip side of this coin is the severe consequences for those who choose to distribute substandard materials.

* Each state has a separate water quality enforcement department and the EPA posts all enforcement reports state by state.

* State agencies can order the removal of non-certified products. Substantial fines can be issued, but the cost of removing or replacing equipment is often just as punitive.

* Enforcement often occurs at the bid request stage when the utility is not specifying NSF-61 in a bid, or if it specified NSF-61 but awards the contract to a product that is not compliant.

* The EPA posts vioations and fines on their website identifying companies and individuals openly for public viewing.

* Compliance monitoring takes place via inspections, interviewing, reports, photographing, taking samples, and observing site operations.

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