Kentucky’s Annual Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance Report Demonstrates Continued Excellence in Quality and Reliability

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 7, 2022) – Kentucky’s 2021 Drinking Water Compliance Report shows that the Commonwealth’s public water systems consistently produce excellent quality water and have a high rate of compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements.

The annual report by the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) summarizes compliance data and monitoring results of Kentucky’s public water systems. The systems are required by the SDWA to test produced water regularly for more than 100 contaminants and to take corrective action and notify customers when a contaminant exceeds standards.

“This year’s drinking water compliance report reflects the dedication of the public water systems of the Commonwealth.  DOW commends their ongoing efforts,” said DOW Director Carey Johnson. “This annual compliance report also demonstrates the DOW’s ongoing commitment to providing reliable, safe, quality water to the citizens, businesses and industries of the Commonwealth. The state continues to exceed the goals and expectations outlined in EPA’s National Compliance Initiative for Kentucky, EPA Region 4 and the nation.”

The annual report shows Kentucky’s public water systems decreased monitoring and reporting violations by 80 percent in 2020, a trend that has continued through 2021. The decrease is attributed to the availability of an electronic submittal process and increased compliance assistance by the DOW, technical assistance partners and the efforts of public water system personnel.

Since 2016, overall health-based violations have decreased by more than 83 percent. These violations are predominately Disinfection Byproduct Rule violations (30) with the remaining eight violations related to the Surface Water Treatment Rules (5), Stage 1 Disinfection Byproduct Rule (1) and the Revised Total Coliform Rule (2). There were no health-based violations of the Ground Water Rule, and no water systems exceeded the federally established limits in 2021 for volatile and synthetic organic compounds or inorganic compounds (VOCs, SOCs or IOCs).

Violations related to disinfection byproducts (DBPs), a class of contaminants that result from the interaction of disinfection chemicals, such as chlorine, with natural organic material in water, constitute 79 percent of all 2021 health-based drinking water violations in Kentucky. The report showed a decrease in these health-based violations, from 118 in 2018, 49 in 2019, 33 violations in 2020 and a further reduction to 30 for 2021. The decrease in health-based violations is attributed to efforts by public water systems to reduce DBP issues in challenged systems through the technical support of the DOW and external technical assistance partners.

Figure 1. Graph of Public Water System Violation Trends from 2016 – 2021.

The increase in health-based violations experienced in 2016 was anticipated due to the full implementation of the federal rule for Stage 2 DBPs. This rule required “consecutive” public water systems that purchase water from another public water system and re-distribute it to its customers to monitor for and meet recently established standards for DBPs. Since then, public water systems have addressed and mitigated many of these DBP occurrences. Kentucky’s DBP violations have decreased by more than 91% since the initial increase in violations in 2016.

Figure 2. Pie chart of 2021 health-based violations by type.

The Kentucky Annual Drinking Water Compliance Report is online.

For more information about the report, contact Alicia Jacobs (