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A brief look at the Safe Drinking Water Act, its enforcement, P.2

Previously, we began looking at enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act. As we noted, enforcement of the law occurs at several levels, including the EPA, state government, tribal governments and, in some cases, individual citizens.

Citizen enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act is limited two a couple potential situations. First, a citizen is able to pursue a civil suit against any federal agency that is in violation of any requirement under the law. The Safe Drinking Water act requires federal agencies to comply with a variety of safety drinking water requirements at the federal, state, interstate and local levels, and citizens can be a part of the enforcement effort. 

The Safe Drinking Water Act also allows citizens to file a civil suit against the EPA Administrator for failure to perform non-discretionary acts or duties. Building a solid case for the Administrator’s failure to perform his or her duties under the law is not necessarily easy, though, and it important to understand the details of the law and how to go about filing a citizen suit.

Even within the above two scenarios, there are certain limitations on pursuing a civil action. For one thing, citizens may not pursue a civil action under the law if the EPA, the Attorney General, or one of the states is already diligently pursuing a civil action. Notice must also be provided to the proper parties when a citizen pursues a civil action. Certain other conditions and requirements apply as well, making the assistance of a skilled advocate essential to pursuing a successful case.

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