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Public notification rule

Public notification is an important part of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made significant changes to the Public Notification Rule, which were added to Wisconsin Administrative Code, Chapter NR 809, effective December 1, 2002. Water suppliers are responsible for understanding and following the Public Notification requirements in Chapter NR 809.

Public notification requirements

The Public Notification (PN) requirements apply to all public water systems. This includes all municipal, other-than-municipal, non-transient and transient systems. The PN requirements affect when, how, and to whom public notice must be given.

Public notices are divided into 3 Tiers to take into account the seriousness of the violation or situation. Water suppliers have from 24 hours to one year to notify their customers after a violation occurs. Water suppliers also need to address "non-English speaking" requirements if their system serves a population where 5% or more speak a language other than English.

Starting March 1, 2003 failure to meet the PN requirements may result in a violation. This means if a system violates any Safe Drinking Water Act requirement, water suppliers must provide public notice to their customers and send a copy of the notice and certification to the DNR or the system will receive a public notice violation.

Examples of some violations or situations requiring public notice are:

  • Violations of any maximum contaminant level (MCL), maximum residual disinfectant level (MRDL), or treatment technique requirement
  • Occurrence of any waterborne disease outbreak or waterborne emergency
  • Violations of monitoring or reporting requirements
  • Failure to comply with the conditions of a variance