How to Write Guidelines and Policies For Public Water Systems

The design guidelines for drinking water systems can be complicated, so it’s important to have some general knowledge about all guidelines and policies for public water systems. But I often get more questions than answers from people when it comes to standard detail. Many people aren’t sure where to even begin, especially when it comes to backflow preventer installations.

I meet with Water Authority officials from across the country on a regular basis. Regardless of which region of the United States I happen to be in, the questions concerning backflow preventer installations are remarkably the same. One question, in particular, comes up a lot: Who can help me write a standard detail for my municipality?

To ensure drinking water quality, you must have effective drinking water regulations. And it starts by providing a standard detail that’s thorough.

Where Did Guidelines and Policies for Public Water Systems Originate?

Before we get into the specifics of protecting your public drinking water, let’s look at the origin of today’s rules and regulations.

Although the American Society of Sanitary Engineering has been around since 1906, it wasn’t until the Safe Drinking Water Act was signed into law in 1974 that today’s rules started to take shape. The act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversight of the nation's drinking water, but the Safe Drinking Water Act did not mention cross-connection control or backflow preventers explicitly. Instead, the EPA produces guidelines that individual states are expected to enforce. The states must then manage the individual water purveyors and those individual municipalities or businesses must also conform to the guidelines.

Since then, the safety of our potable water systems has drastically improved. But the convoluted structure of regulations still allows for mistakes and outbreaks of contaminated water. Clean drinking water depends on each water jurisdiction adopting and enforcing the laws, requirements and codes to protect public health.

Developing Design Guidelines For Drinking Water Systems

Regardless of where you are located, a municipal standard detail is the best method to ensure the protection of your water supply. A standard detail provided by the water authority gives specific design guidelines for drinking water systems, and they’re provided to everyone in your jurisdiction. The keys to an effective municipal standard detail are as follows:

  • Clear and concise – The most effective standard details provide all of the basic information with no added fillers. There is no need to include long lists of approved products and manufacturers to complicate the understanding of your detail. Leave that task to the approval agencies. Simply list the certification number for each product in your detail (i.e., ASSE 1060 for enclosures) and have the peace of mind that whatever product/manufacturer is submitted will be a quality product.
  • Specific for each application – Standard details are most beneficial when they address each installation specifically. For backflow preventer details, it is important to have specific drawings for commercial, residential, irrigation and fire applications. Every jurisdiction is different and has different preferences and tendencies, but having a specific detail for every application is essential.
  • Enforceable – The main purpose of a municipal standard detail is to provide guidelines for anyone who wants to use your water. That is a key thing to remember…it is your water…and if someone wants to use it, they have to follow your guidelines. It is important that everyone in your water department, from engineering, planning, review and cross-connection control all understand and endorse your standard detail, and enforce all of the applications throughout the system.

Protecting your water distribution system is critical. But writing a list of design guidelines for drinking water systems does not have to be complicated. Keep your public water supplies safe by writing standard details that are clear and concise, specific and enforceable.

We Help Write Guidelines and Policies for Public Water Systems

Writing a standard detail with drawings that use these effective keys can be a daunting task, especially if you are starting from scratch. Luckily, the trained team at Safe-T-Cover can assist your efforts.

We have multiple in-house engineers who will work with you to include all of your local preferences while streamlining your details for maximum effectiveness. We have assisted municipalities all over the country to create their municipal standard details, with a wide range of applications. We can do the engineer drawings, as well as write the specifications with language and graphics that can pass the most stringent requirements.

The best part is Safe-T-Cover does not charge anything for this service. Our goal is to provide information and services that benefit the water industry, and in turn, we will benefit as well. If you are considering adding municipal standard details to your water authority, please contact Safe-T-Cover and we will work together to protect your water supply. Or take some time to review the guidelines for drinking water systems in every state.

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