• Jason Ferguson

What is a Public Water System?

What is a Public Water System? Since we market ourselves as the experts in permit, design and installation of public water systems for small businesses, it seems fitting to begin this blog by addressing this most basic question, "What exactly is a Public Water System?"



What is a Public Water System?

In the United States, the definition of a Public Water System (PWS) can be found in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). As of today, the general definition of a public water system is "a system for the provision to the public of water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances, if such system has at least fifteen service connections or regularly serves at least twenty-five individuals." That little definition has a lot packed into it and is one of the primary forces driving the multi-billion dollar per year water industry.


Alphabet Soup.

PWS, SWDA, EPA, TCEQ, STEERS, NSF, AWWA, etc, etc, et cetera ad nauseum. Death and taxes are the two things popularly thought to be unavoidable, here's another one - governmental acronyms. When it comes to public water systems, everyone seems to have their finger in the pie, but broadly speaking, the Envrionmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ultimate regulatory authority over Public Water Systems, but state agencies, like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), are often tasked with enforcement of those regulations and in some cases add further rules or definitions to existing EPA rules under the SDWA. The rule of thumb is that a state or local entity must adopt rules that are at least as stringent as the federal rules.


Small Businesses in Texas.

Practically speaking, what does this mean for a small business in Texas? Glad you asked. First it means, that if your business serves 25 or more people at least 60 days out of the year, or if you have 15 or more connections and you are not already served by an existing PWS, then you meet the legal definition of a Public Water System. Second, it means that you are responsible for compliance with all of the local, state and federal regulations that are applicable to your kind of public water system.


What should I do?

Navigating the rules and regulations governing can be daunting. Small business owners have enough to worry about without having to learn the intricacies of environmental regulatory agencies. The engineering team at Searchers Surveying & Engineering prides itself being the experts in permit, design and installation of public water systems for small businesses. Contact us today!



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