The primary mission of the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) is to prevent disease and to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of Rhode Island. The Department of Health considers drinking water protection to be an essential and fundamental public health program.
The Office of Drinking Water Quality ensures the safety of public drinking water in Rhode Island by:
- Approving new public water sources;
- Monitoring and inspecting existing sources; and
- Working with suppliers to maintain compliance with state and federal regulations.
All Community Water Systems must provide their consumers with a summary of their water quality each year. This is called a Consumer Confidence Report(CCR) . The US EPA has more information about CCRs at their web site. The CCR is a report that tells the consumers of Community water about the quality of their water at the tap for the previous year. It will tell you:
- Who your supplier is, and how to contact them,
- Where your water comes from,
- How it is treated,
- What substances have been found in your water, and
- What your supplier is doing to protect your water.
All water supplies are monitored for potential contaminants. What they test for, and how often, depend on the type of system and how many people drink the water. Transient water supplies are tested for nitrates and bacteria only. These can have immediate health effects. Non-transient and Community water supplies are tested for nitrates and bacteria, along with about 70 other potential contaminants that can have long-term health effects if consumed daily over many years. The number of samples that each system must take per week depends on the number of people they serve.
If contaminants are detected in amounts above certain limits, the supplier is required to take action. The action may be:
- A change in treatment to reduce the amount of the contaminant detected, or
- Public notice, if there is any danger to consumers in the short term, or
- If the contamination is severe, the water supplier may be required to provide bottled water to consumers until the problem is resolved.