3745-81-32 Public notification.

(A) General requirements for public notification by public water systems.

(1) The owner or operator of a public water system shall provide public notice to persons served by that public water system in accordance with this rule. Public water systems that sell or otherwise provide drinking water to other public water systems (i.e., to consecutive systems) are required to give public notice in accordance with this rule to the owner or operator of the consecutive system; the consecutive system is responsible for providing public notice in accordance with this rule to the persons it serves.

(2) If a community public water system has a violation in a portion of the distribution system that is physically or hydraulically isolated from other parts of the distribution system as described in the emergency contingency plan required by Chapter 3745-85 of the Administrative Code, the director may allow the system to limit distribution of the public notice to only persons served by that portion of the system which is out of compliance. Permission for limited distribution shall be granted in writing by the director.

(3) The public water system, within ten days of completing the public notification requirements under this rule for the initial public notice and any repeat notices, must submit to the director a completed verification form indicating that is has fully complied with the public notification regulations. The public water system must include with this certification a representative copy of each type of notice distributed, published, posted, and made available to the persons served by the system and to the media.

(B) Tier 1 public notification requirements.

(1) The owner or operator of a public water system with any of the following violations or situations that may pose an acute risk to human health, shall notify the persons served by the public water system in accordance with paragraph (B)(3) of this rule:

(a) Any violation or situation specified by the director as posing an acute risk to human health.

(b) Violation of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for nitrate and nitrite as established in rule 3745-81-11 of the Administrative Code and determined according to rule 3745-81-23 of the Administrative Code.

(c) Violation of the maximum contaminant level for total coliforms, as specified in paragraph (C) of rule 3745-81-14 of the Administrative Code.

(d) Violation of monitoring and reporting repeat samples for total coliforms, as specified in paragraph (B) of rule 3745-81-21 of the Administrative Code.

(e) Occurrence of a waterborne disease outbreak in a public water system, as defined in rule 3745-81-01 of the Administrative Code, or waterborne emergency as specified by the director.

(f) Violation of the maximum residual disinfectant level (MRDL) for chlorine dioxide as defined in rule 3745-81-10 of the Administrative Code and determined according to rule 3745-81-70 of the Administrative Code.

(g) Exceedance of the turbidity level in representative samples of filtered water as specified in paragraph (E) of rule 3745-81-75 of the Administrative Code and one or more of the following occurs:

(i) The public water system fails to consult with the director within twenty-four hours after learning of the violation;

(ii) Any failure in an individual treatment process where the treatment process does not operate as designed and approved;

(iii) The director determines after consultation that a Tier 1 notice is required.

(h) Public water systems with a fecal indicator-positive ground water source sample collected under paragraph (A) or (B) of rule 3745-81-42 of the Administrative Code. This requirement also applies to consecutive systems supplied by the ground water source.

(2) The owner or operator of a public water system with a physical or operational disruption shall notify the persons served in the affected area of the public water system in accordance with paragraph (B)(3) of this rule when any sample (including special purpose samples) taken after minimum pressure falls below twenty pounds per square inch gauge at ground level and within the affected area of disruption is determined to be E. coli positive or fecal coliform positive.

(a) Tier 1 notice is not required if the system issued a precautionary notice as approved by the director through the public water system's contingency plan required by Chapter 3745-85 of the Administrative Code and a follow-up notice identifying the E. coli or fecal coliform results is issued to persons who received the preliminary notice.

(b) The Tier 1 notice shall remain in effect until total coliforms are not detected in consecutive samples collected twenty-four hours apart. The number of samples to be collected each day must be representative of the affected area, but shall not be less than two samples per day.

(3) Public water systems shall:

(a) Provide a public notice as soon as practical but no later than twenty-four hours after the system learns of the violation or situation, using one or more of the following forms of delivery in order to reach all persons served:

(i) Appropriate broadcast media (such as radio and television);

(ii) Posting of the notice in conspicuous locations throughout the area served by the water system;

(iii) Hand delivery of the notice to persons served by the water system; or

(iv) Another delivery method approved in writing by the director.

(b) Initiate consultation with the director as soon as practical, but no later than twenty-four hours after the public water system learns of the violation or situation, to determine additional public notice requirements; and

(c) Comply with any additional public notification requirements (including any repeat notices or direction on the duration of the posted notices) that are established as a result of the consultation with the director. Such requirements may include the timing, form, manner, frequency, and content of repeat notices (if any) and other actions designed to reach all persons served.

(C) Tier 2 public notification requirements.

(1) The owner or operator of a public water system with any of the following violations or situations shall notify the persons served by the public water system in accordance with paragraph (C)(2) of this rule:

(a) All violations of the MCL, MRDL, and treatment technique requirements pursuant to this chapter, except those specified in paragraph (B)(1) of this rule.

(b) Failure to collect any three samples of source water monitoring as specified in paragraph (C) of rule 3745-81-65 of the Administrative Code for the"Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule."

(c) Failure to determine and report bin classification or mean Cryptosporidium level required by paragraphs (A) to (D) of rule 3745-81-65 of the Administrative Code for the"Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule."

(d) Any other violation or situation specified by the director.

(2) Public water systems shall:

(a) Provide a public notice as soon as practical, but no later than thirty days after the system learns of the violation or situation.

(i) Community public water systems shall provide notice using the following forms of delivery in order to reach all persons served:

(a) Mail or other direct delivery to each customer receiving a bill and to other service connections to which water is delivered by the public water system; and

(b) Any other method reasonably calculated to reach other persons regularly served by the system, if they would not normally be reached by the notice required in paragraph (C)(2)(a)(i)(a) of this rule. Such persons may include those who do not pay water bills or do not have service connection addresses (e.g., house renters, apartment dwellers, university students, nursing home patients, prison inmates, etc.). Other methods may include: publication in a local newspaper; delivery of multiple copies for distribution by customers that provide their drinking water to others (e.g., apartment building owners or large private employers); posting in public places served by the system or on the Internet; or delivery to community organizations. If the public notice is posted, the notice shall remain in place for as long as the violation or situation persists, but in no case for less than seven days, even if the violation or situation is resolved.

(ii) Noncommunity public water systems shall provide notice using the following forms of delivery in order to reach all persons served:

(a) Posting the notice in conspicuous locations throughout the distribution system frequented by persons served by the system, or by mail or direct delivery to each customer and service connection (where known). If the public notice is posted, the notice shall remain in place for as long as the violation or situation persists, but in no case for less than seven days, even if the violation or situation is resolved; and

(b) Any other method reasonably calculated to reach other persons served by the system if they would not normally be reached by the notice required in paragraph (C)(2)(a)(ii)(a) of this rule. Such persons may include those served who may not see a posted notice because the posted notice is not in a location they routinely pass by. When the persons served are children, such as in schools, their parents or legal guardians shall be notified. Other methods may include: publication in a local newspaper or newsletter distributed to customers; use of E-mail to notify employees or students and parents or legal guardians; or delivery of multiple copies in central locations (e.g., community centers).

(b) The public water system shall repeat the notice every three months as long as the violation or situation persists, unless the director determines that appropriate circumstances warrant a different repeat notice frequency. In no circumstances may the repeat notice be given less frequently than once per year. Permission to issue repeat notices less frequently than once every three months must be granted in writing by the director.

(c) For turbidity violations specified in paragraph (E) of rule 3745-81-75 of the Administrative Code, public water systems shall consult with the director as soon as practical but no later than twenty-four hours after the public water system learns of the violation. When the director determines after consultation that a Tier 1 notice is required, or when consultation does not take place within the twenty-four hour period, the water system shall distribute notice of the violation within the next twenty-four hours (i.e., no later than forty-eight hours after the system learns of the violation) in accordance with paragraph (B) of this rule.

(D) Tier 3 public notification requirements.

(1) The owner or operator of a public water system with any of the following violations or situations shall notify the persons served by the public water system in accordance with paragraphs (D)(2) and (D)(3) of this rule:

(a) Violations of the monitoring and testing procedure requirements pursuant to this chapter;

(b) Exceedance of the fluoride secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) as specified in Chapter 3745-82 of the Administrative Code;

(c) Availability of unregulated contaminant monitoring results, as required by 40 C.F.R. Section 141.207 (March 25, 2003); or

(d) Any other violation or situation specified by the director.

(2) Community public water systems shall provide notice as soon as practical, but no later than one year after the public water system learns of the violation or situation. The following forms of delivery shall be used in order to reach all persons served:

(a) Mail or other direct delivery to each customer receiving a bill and to other service connections to which water is delivered by the public water system; and

(b) Any other method reasonably calculated to reach other persons regularly served by the system, if they would not normally be reached by the notice required in paragraph (D)(2)(a) of this rule. Such persons may include those who do not pay water bills or do not have service connection addresses (e.g., house renters, apartment dwellers, university students, nursing home patients, prison inmates, etc.). Other methods may include: publication in a local newspaper; delivery of multiple copies for distribution by customers that provide their drinking water to others (e.g., apartment building owners or large private employers); posting in public places or on the Internet; or delivery to community organizations. If the public notice is posted, the notice shall remain in place for as long as the violation or other situation persists, but in no case less than seven days (even if the violation or situation is resolved).

(c) The consumer confidence report (CCR) required under Chapter 3745-96 of the Administrative Code may be used as a vehicle for the initial public notice and all required repeat notices, as long as:

(i) The CCR is provided to persons served within the time frames specified in paragraph (D)(2) of this rule; and

(ii) The notice contained in the CCR follows the content requirements under this rule; and

(iii) The CCR is distributed following the delivery requirements in this rule.

(3) Noncommunity water systems shall provide notice as soon as practical, but no later than thirty days after the public water system learns of the violation or situation. The following forms of delivery shall be used in order to reach all persons served:

(a) Posting the notice in conspicuous locations through the distribution system frequented by persons served by the system, or by mail or direct delivery to each customer and service connection (where known). If the public notice is posted, the notice shall remain in place for as long as the violation or other situation persists, but in no case less than seven days (even if the violation or situation is resolved); and

(b) Any other method reasonably calculated to reach other persons served by the system, if they would not normally be reached by the notice required in paragraph (D)(3)(a) of this rule. Such persons may include those who may not see a posted notice because the notice is not in a location they routinely pass by. When the persons served are children, such as in schools, their parents or legal guardians shall be notified. Other methods may include: publication in a local newspaper or newsletter distributed to customers; use of E-mail to notify employees or students and parents or legal guardians; or, delivery of multiple copies in central locations (e.g., community centers).

(4) For methods other than posting, the public water system shall repeat the notice annually for as long as the violation or other situation persists.

(5) For violations of the fluoride SMCL, the public water system shall send a copy of the notice to the local health department and the "Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Oral Health Services."

(E) Content of public notices.

(1) Each public notice, except the public notice required in paragraphs (C)(1)(b) and (C)(1)(c) of this rule, shall include the following elements:

(a) A description of the violation or situation, including the contaminant(s) of concern, the MCL, and (as applicable) the contaminant level(s);

(b) When the violation or situation occurred;

(c) Any potential adverse health effects from the violation or situation, including:

(i) Standard health effects language specified in table 1 of this rule, including the language necessary to fill in the blanks, for MCL, MRDL, treatment technique, or fluoride SMCL exceedances, or

(ii) Standard language for monitoring and testing procedure violations, including the language necessary to fill in the blanks: "We are required to monitor your drinking water for specific contaminants on a regular basis. Results of regular monitoring are an indicator of whether or not your drinking water meets health standards. During [compliance period], we "did not monitor or test" or "did not complete all monitoring or testing" for [contaminant(s)], and therefore cannot be sure of the quality of your drinking water during that time."

(d) The population at risk, including subpopulations particularly vulnerable if exposed to the contaminant in their drinking water;

(e) Whether alternative water supplies should be used;

(f) What actions consumers should take, including when they should seek medical help, if known;

(g) What the system is doing to correct the violation or situation;

(h) When the water system expects to return to compliance or resolve the situation;

(i) The name, business address, and phone number of the water system owner, operator, or designee of the public water system as a source of additional information concerning the notice; and

(j) A statement to encourage the notice recipient to distribute the public notice to other persons served, using the following standard language: "Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail."

(2) Each public notice required by paragraphs (C)(1)(b) and (C)(1)(c) of this rule shall include the following elements:

(a) The public notice for repeated failure to conduct monitoring as specified in paragraph (C)(1)(b) of this rule shall contain the following language:

"We are required to monitor the source of your drinking water for Cryptosporidium. Results of the monitoring are to be used to determine whether water treatment at the [treatment plant name] is sufficient to adequately remove Cryptosporidium from your drinking water. We are required to complete this monitoring and make this determination by [required bin determination date]. We did not monitor or test or did not complete all monitoring or testing on schedule and, therefore, we may not be able to determine by the required date what treatment modifications, if any, must be made to ensure adequate Cryptosporidium removal. Missing this deadline may, in turn jeopardize our ability to have the required treatment modifications, if any, completed by the deadline required, [date]."

"For more information, please call [contact name] of [public water system name] at [phone number]."

(b) The public notice for failure to determine bin classification or mean Cryptosporidium level as specified in paragraph (C)(1)(c) of this rule shall contain the following language:

"We are required to monitor the source of your drinking water for Cryptosporidium in order to determine by [date] whether water treatment at the [public water system name] is sufficient to adequately remove Cryptosporidium from your drinking water. We have not made this determination by the required date. Our failure to do this may jeopardize our ability to have the required treatment modifications, if any, completed by the required deadline of [date]. For more information, please call [contact name] of [public water system name] at [phone number]."

(c) Each public notice must also include a description of what the system is doing to correct the violation and when the system expects to return to compliance or resolve the situation.

(3) Presentation of the public notice.

(a) Each public notice required by this section:

(i) Shall be displayed in a conspicuous way when printed or posted;

(ii) Shall not contain overly technical language or very small print;

(iii) Shall not be formatted in a way that defeats the purpose of the notice; and

(iv) Shall not contain language which nullifies the purpose of the notice.

(b) For public water systems serving a large proportion of non-English speaking consumers, defined as ten per cent or more of the residents speaking the same non-English language, the public notice shall contain information in the appropriate language(s) regarding the importance of the notice or contain a telephone number or address where persons served may contact the water system to obtain a translated copy of the notice or to request assistance in the appropriate language.

(4) Notice to new billing units or new customers.

(a) Community water systems shall give a copy of the most recent public notice for any continuing violation, or other ongoing situations requiring a public notice to all new billing units or new customers prior to or at the time service begins.

(b) Noncommunity water systems shall continuously post the public notice in conspicuous locations in order to inform new consumers of any continuing violation or other situation requiring a public notice for as long as the violation or other situation persists.

(F) The director may give the notice required by this rule when the owner or operator of a public water system fails or refuses to comply with the requirements of this rule. However, the owner or operator of a public water system remains responsible for ensuring that the requirements of this rule are satisfied.


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Effective: 10/31/2010
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 08/16/2010 and 10/31/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 6109.04
Rule Amplifies: 6109.04 , 6109.06
Prior Effective Dates: 12/27/78, 5/22/89, 12/31/90, 9/13/93, 4/1/96, 1/1/02, 1/1/03, 11/1/04, 01/01/2008, 01/08/10