Industries and municipalities are constrained to strict regulations in dealing with wastewater. EPA methods and guidance for the analysis of water must be strictly adhered to. They get their authority to do this from the Clean Water Act. Revisions are being developed but the current regulations have been used to develop current stipulations. EPA officials have the authority to impose whatever is necessary based on those regulations.
There are both general guidelines and those imposed on certain industries. These are thoroughly and completed explained so as to be easy to follow. Whole effluent toxicity (WET) tests have been designed to determine the overall effect of certain pollutants. Guidelines have been put in place for determining the toxicity for freshwater and marine life. These include all organisms from the absolute smallest to larger ones, such as trout and other larger organisms.
WET impacts include both those for acute and chronic toxicity. Sampling and testing guidelines are very strict to ensure adherence. There are three manuals that they have published to help facilitate adherence to these strict regulations. They give details about the number of samples that must be collected, ranges of acceptable toxicity, and instructions concerning variation in both collection and testing.
EPA manuals of specific regulations include those listing acceptable alternative testing procedures and allowable deviations. They have stipulated specific information about tests that are not included in the CWA rules and regulations. Acceptable modifications to proposed testing as outlined in the guidelines of the CWA have also been detailed in these publications.
Means for extraction oil, gas, and grease have been detailed, following very strict procedures. Other pollutants are also addressed, with stipulations as to the concentrations that are allowable. These pollutants include, among others, cyanide and mercury. There are very strict levels of concentration that have to be adhered to based on stipulated rules.
One concern to EPA officials is a newly developing condition. This condition is the increase in pollutant levels for such things as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and perflourinated substances. These substances are called Contaminants of Emerging Concern because of the nature of their recent increase and continued rising levels of contamination. They are recognized for their potential harm and are being closely investigated and monitored closely, as well as being looked at to try and determine from where the contamination originates.
Drinking water testing and analysis has special regulations of its own. They are stricter than other regulations, and must be strictly followed without deviation. Provisions are outlined for a variety of potential contaminating situations, such as floods and severe storms like hurricanes. There must be strict monitoring of contaminate levels, and safe levels must be strictly followed for the safety of consumers.
Methods and guidance for the analysis of water that EPA officials demand cannot guarantee safety at all times, but do help keep everything clean and safe and within certain guidelines. Efforts are ongoing, with tests and investigations continuing on a daily basis to ensure safety of all consumers. There is some comfort in realizing that someone is attempting to ensure the safety of all.