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New GAO Report on DOD Drinking Water Recommends Improvements

Grayson

 

By E. Lynn Grayson 

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A new GAO Report finds that DOD failed to report drinking water-related violations for 16 of its installations and that overall compliance rates were lower for DOD-treated drinking water systems. The Report also noted  DOD has made some progress in addressing emerging contaminants in its drinking water, specifically including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perchlorate.

The Report identified different compliance rates between DOD-treated water systems and non-DOD-treated water systems. Just one percent of individuals who received non-DOD-treated water from military installation systems were served by systems with EPA or local health violations. However, 11 percent of individuals who received DOD-treated drinking water were served by systems with such violations. DOD has taken steps to limit individuals’ exposure to some chemicals, including providing alternative water supplies and installing water treatment systems.

The Report recommends the following key actions to improve DOD’s data, reporting, and oversight of drinking water requirements: 

  • Identify and implement any necessary changes to DOD’s environmental compliance policy to clarify DOD’s reporting requirements for violations of health-based drinking water standards;
  • Identify and implement actions to increase understanding at Army, Navy and Air Force installations and commands about DOD’s reporting requirements for violations of health-based drinking water regulations; and
  • Review reported compliance data to identify the reasons for any differences in the number of violations of health-based drinking water regulations between DOD’s two types of public water supplies and take action to address the causes of any differences.

 DOD concurred with each of these recommendations.