The proposed Aircraft Drinking Water Rule will tailor existing health-based drinking water regulations to fit the unique characteristics of aircraft public water systems.
Aircraft passengers and crews will be able to drink safer water under new
regulations proposed in April by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The
proposedAircraft Drinking Water Rulewill
tailor existing health-based drinking water regulations to fit the unique
characteristics of aircraft public water systems. The rule will protect the public
from illnesses that can result from microbiological contamination.
"We're upgrading airline
drinking water standards to first-class status with better testing, treatment
and maintenance," said Assistant Administrator for WaterBenjamin
In 2004, EPA tested aircraft drinking
water quality and reviewed air carrier compliance with regulations. EPA found
that 15 percent of tested aircraft tested positive for total coliform bacteria.
The agency also found air carriers were not meeting existing regulations,
primarily because those regulations were designed for stationary public water
In response, EPA began a process to tailor the
existing regulations for aircraft public water systems and placed 45 air
carriers under administrative orders on consent that are in effect until
aircraft drinking water regulations are final.
The proposed ADWR will protect drinking water through
monitoring, disinfection and public notification, a combination that EPA
believes will better protect public health. The
approach will build on existing aircraft operations and maintenance programs
and better coordinate federal programs that regulate aircraft water systems.
The proposed ADWR applies to the aircraft's onboard water
system only. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating the
airport watering points that include the water cabinets, carts, trucks and
hoses from which aircraft board water. EPA and the states are responsible for
regulating public water systems that supply drinking water to the airport
While the proposed rule only addresses
aircraft within U.S. jurisdiction, EPA is also supporting an international
effort led by the World Health Organization to develop international guidelines
for aircraft drinking water.