Standards Program

EPA Drinking Water Standards

Drinking water standards are regulations the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets to control the level of contaminants in the nation's drinking water. These standards are part of the Safe Drinking Water Act's approach to drinking water protection, which includes assessing and protecting drinking water sources, protecting wells and collection systems, making sure water is treated by qualified operators, ensuring the integrity of distribution systems and making information available to the public on the quality of their drinking water through an Annual Water Quality Report.

EPA's Drinking Water Standards Program has established health based standards for more than 80 contaminants. The Town of Needham is responsible for conducting monitoring of drinking water to ensure that it is meets all Federal drinking water regulations. Water analyses are conducted by independent certified laboratories utilizing EPA approved analytical methods developed by government agencies, universities, and other organizations.

There are two categories of drinking water standards:

  • National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR or primary standards) are legally- enforceable standards that apply to public water systems. Primary standards protect drinking water quality by limiting the levels of specific contaminants that can adversely affect public health and are known or anticipated to occur in water.
  • National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations (NSDWR or secondary standards) are non-enforceable guidelines regarding contaminants that may cause aesthetic effects (such as taste, odor, or color) in drinking water. EPA recommends secondary standards to water systems but do not require systems to comply.

Ensuring Water Quality

Needham's drinking water undergoes rigorous testing each step of the way - from the Needham Wellfield to the tap in your home. Needham's testing schedule, mandated by the Department of Environmental Protection, includes the contaminants we are required to monitor as well as the frequency. Sample analyses are conducted by State certified laboratories. Results from the analyses are submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection for review. Needham collects more than 500 water samples per year analyzing for over 100 potential contaminants.

We are proud to report that our drinking water continues to meet or exceed all state and federal drinking water quality standards.