Data Management And Compliance Unit

The Data Management and Compliance Unit has programs that monitor water quality in several different areas, ranging from microbiological organisms to organic and inorganic compounds to radionuclides. These regulations set maximum permissible levels for certain contaminants known as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL). In certain situations, regulations also require that minimum water treatment techniques be performed. To verify that these water quality standards are being met, regulations have been promulgated to ensure regular monitoring and reporting of water quality parameters.

What are the regulatory programs that the PWSS has and what contaminants do they regulate?

The regulatory programs administered by the PWSS require water systems to monitor for the following groups of drinking water contaminants:

Total Coliform:

Total Coliform Quick Reference Guide

All public water supply systems are required by state regulation K.A.R. 28-15-19(a) to disinfect all drinking water provided to the public. To evaluate the effectiveness of the disinfection method employed, all systems are required by state regulation K.A.R. 28-15a-21 to submit monthly water samples for total coliform testing. Total coliform testing is used as an indicator of the presence of other bacteriological contaminants. Systems can choose to have this bacteriological testing performed by KDHE's microbiology laboratory or a private certified laboratory. A minimum of two water samples per month are required to be collected and tested for systems serving up to 2,500 persons. Systems serving more than 2,500 persons are required to collect and test more water samples per month, increasing in sample number as the population served by the system increases.

Systems that fail to collect any water samples within the monthly compliance period are assessed a routine monitoring violation. Systems that have a water sample test positive are required to do three repeat samples (also called check samples). If the system fails to collect these repeat (check) samples, the system then is assessed a repeat monitoring violation. Both of these monitoring violations require the system to issue public notice by publishing the violation notice in a local newspaper of general circulation.

Systems can incur a maximum contaminant level (MCL) violation if water samples test positive for total coliform, or the system can incur an acute maximum contaminant level (acute MCL) violation if fecal coliform or E. coli are also found. In either case, the system is required to issue public notice by notifying the public of the violation through the electronic news media (radio and television) and publishing the violation notice in a local newspaper of general circulation.

Chemical Contaminants:

The National Primary Drinking Water Regulations of the Safe Drinking Water Act legislated by Congress and adopted by the State of Kansas, established maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for 83 chemical contaminants affecting drinking water. These contaminants are all harmful to human health; most being toxic and/or carcinogenic. Numerous contaminants such as solvents, pesticides and herbicides, and heavy metals are monitored by this regulation.

This regulation classifies these chemical contaminants into five groups:

All community water systems and nontransient noncommunity water systems are required to monitor for all these contaminants. Water systems that exclusively purchase water from other systems are not required to monitor for these contaminants.

Systems monitor for these contaminants under a standardized monitoring frequency schedule consisting of three compliance periods of three years each. During these compliance periods, water systems are required to do specific monitoring depending on the size of their population and whether they use surface or ground water. The first three-year compliance period of this rule began January 1, 1993, and ended December 31, 1995. The current compliance period that began January 1, 1996, will end on December 31, 1998. Systems with surface water as their source are required to monitor more frequently since their source is more vulnerable to contaminants than groundwater. Systems with populations greater than 3,300 are also required to monitor more frequently than small systems with populations of 3,300 or less.

Regulations also specifies that all the water samples must be collected at the point of entry (POE). The POE is defined a point after the raw water has been treated and before it enters the distribution system.

Water supply systems that are out of compliance with this regulation, by failing to monitor or having had an MCL violation, must issue a public notice of the violation to all their consumer s using newspaper, television, radio, mail, and/or posted notices.


Arsenic Quick Reference Guide

The contamination of a drinking water source by arsenic can result from either natural or human activities. Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in rocks and soil, water, air, plants, and animals. Volcanic activity, the erosion of rocks and minerals, and forest fires are natural sources that can release arsenic into the environment. Although about 90 percent of the arsenic used by industry in the United States is currently used for wood preservative purposes, arsenic is also used in paints, drugs, dyes, soaps, metals and semi-conductors. Agricultural applications, mining, and smelting also contribute to arsenic releases. Studies link arsenic ingestion to a number of health effects. These health effects include:

  • Cancerous effects: skin, bladder, lung, kidney, nasal passages, liver and prostate cancer; and
  • Non-cancerous effects: cardiovascular, pulmonary, immunological, neurological and endocrine (e.g., diabetes) effects.

The current maximum contaminant level (MCL) for arsenic is 0.010 mg/L.  This MCL was reduced from 0.050 mg/l effective January 23, 2006.


In recent years, asbestos as a health risk has been brought to the forefront of public awareness. Inhalation of asbestos fibers has been shown to produce lung tumors in laboratory animals and in humans. Ingestion of asbestos fibers greater than 10 micrometers in length has been shown to cause benign tumors in laboratory rats. To reduce the potential risk of cancer or other adverse health effects that have been observed in laboratory animals, EPA has set the drinking water standard for asbestos at 7 million fibers per liter (fibers longer than 10 micrometers).

Asbestos enters drinking water generally from either contact with natural mineral deposits or asbestos-cement pipes used in water distribution systems. Geologically, Kansas does not have any naturally occurring asbestos. Therefore, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the state of Kansas a waiver from having to perform asbestos monitoring. Water systems using asbestos-cement pipes in their distribution system are required to test for asbestos.


Many drinking water contaminants, like nitrate and nitrite are found naturally occurring in the environment. Nitrogen may find its way into the groundwater from decaying plant and animal matter, precipitation, and urban runoff. Fertilization of agricultural and urban land with ammonium nitrate, and runoff from livestock operations are a significant cause of nitrate contamination of groundwater.

Excessive amounts of nitrate and nitrite can cause methemoglobinemia in infants, also known as "blue-baby syndrome." To safeguard infants from this condition, K.A.R. 28-15a-62 sets the maximum contaminant level of 10 milligrams per liter (mg/l) for nitrate and 1 mg/l for nitrite as the maximum allowable concentration in public drinking water supplies. K.A.R. 28-15a-62 requires that public water supply systems with their own sources of water to monitor all their points of entry (POE) at least once a year for nitrate. Systems that exclusively use purchased water from other systems are exempt from this monitoring.

Inorganic Compounds (IOCs)

Inorganic compounds (IOC) consist of substances that do not have any carbon in their composition. Two major classes of inorganic compounds are metal and non-metals. The K.A.R. 28-15a-62 set maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for eight metals and two non-metal contaminants (see Table 1). Most of these IOCs occur naturally in the environment and are soluble in water. Because of this, they are potential contaminants of drinking water. Not all IOCs originate from natural mineral deposits. Industrial activities such as metal finishing, textile manufacturing, mining operations, electroplating, manufacturing of fertilizers, paints, and glass also generate these contaminants.

These IOC contaminants are toxic to humans at certain levels. Cadmium, chromium, and selenium can cause damage to the kidneys, liver, and nervous and circulatory systems. Barium has been associated with high blood pressure and mercury has been shown to damage kidneys. Antimony, beryllium, cyanide, nickel, and thallium have been shown to damage the brain, lungs, kidneys, heart, spleen, and liver. Once detected these IOCs can be removed from drinking water using various available technologies such as coagulation/filtration, lime softening, reverse osmosis, ion exchange, chlorine oxidation, activated alumina, and granular activated carbon.

Regulated Inorganic Compounds (IOCs)
Compound Name Maximum Contaminant
Level (MCL)
Antimony 0.006 mg/l
Arsenic 0.10 mg/l *
Barium 2 mg/l
Beryllium 0.004 mg/l
Cadmium 0.005 mg/l
Chromium 0.1 mg/l
Cyanide 0.2 mg/l
Fluoride 4 mg/l
Mercury 0.002 mg/l
Nickel 0.1 mg/l
Selenium 0.05 mg/l
Thallium 0.002 mg/l

Reduced to 0.010 mg/L effective January 23, 2006.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are commonly referred to as organic solvents. These compounds are generally found as constituents of many degreasers, industrial cleaners, spot/stain removers, paint thinners, in some paints, varnishes and lacquers, in many paint removers/strippers, in many pesticides/herbicides, in most dry cleaning chemicals, in many printing inks and printing press chemicals, in most petroleum products including many types of fuels. These compounds can often be identified by their distinct aromatic smell. Most of these compounds are flammable and toxic to varying degrees. Because of this, they are also a potential source of environmental pollution and pose a health hazard.

The following twenty-one volatile organic compounds are regulated by K.A.R. 28-15a-61. These regulations set monitoring frequencies and MCLs for each contaminant.

Regulated Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Compound Name MCL Uses
Benzene 0.005 mg/l fuels, pesticides, paints, pharmaceutical
Carbon tetrachloride 0.005 mg/l degreasing agents, fumigants
p-Dichlorobenzene 0.075 mg/l insecticides, moth balls
o-Dichlorobenzene 0.6 mg/l insecticides, industrial solvents
1,2 Dichloroethane 0.005 mg/l gasoline, insecticides
1,1 Dichloroethylene 0.007 mg/l paints, dyes, plastics
cis-1,2 Dichloroethylene 0.07 mg/l industrial solvents, chemical manufacturing
trans-1,2 Dichloroethylene 0.1 mg/l industrial solvents, chemical manufacturing
Dichloromethane 0.005 mg/l paint strippers, refrigerants, fumigants
1,2 Dichloropropane 0.005 mg/l soil fumigants, industrial solvents
Ethylbenzene 0.7 mg/l gasoline, insecticides
Monochlorobenzene 0.1 mg/l industrial solvents, pesticides
Styrene 0.1 mg/l plastics, synthetic rubber, resins
Tetrachloroethylene 0.005 mg/l dry cleaning/industrial solvents
Toluene 1 mg/l gasoline, industrial solvents
1,2,4 Trichlorobenzene 0.07 mg/l industrial solvents
1,1,1 Trichloroethane 0.2 mg/l metal cleaning/degreasing agent
1,1,2 Trichloroethane 0.005 mg/l industrial degreasing solvents
Trichloroethylene 0.005 mg/l paint strippers, dry cleaning, degreasers
Vinyl chloride 0.002 mg/l plastics/synthetic rubber, solvents
Xylenes 10 mg/l paints/inks solvent, synthetic fibers, dyes

Synthetic Organic Compounds (SOCs)

Synthetic organic compounds (SOCs) are man-made compounds, many of which are chlorinated and used as herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides. There are 33 synthetic organic compounds that are regulated in K.A.R. 28-15a-61. This regulation sets a MCL for each SOC. Systems failing to monitor or having a MCL violation, must notify the public of such violation and provide proof of performing the public notice to the state.

Regulated Synthetic Organic Compounds (SOCs)
Compound Name MCL Uses
Alachlor (Lasso) 0.002 mg/l pesticide
Aldicarb 0.003 mg/l insecticide
Aldicarb sulfoxide 0.003 mg/l insecticide
Aldicarb sulfone 0.003 mg/l insecticide
Atrazine (Atranex, Crisazina) 0.003 mg/l weed control
Benzo(a)pyrene 0.0002 mg/l coal tar lining & sealants
Carbofuran (Furadan 4F) 0.04 mg/l rootworm, weevil control
Chlordane 0.002 mg/l termite control
Dalapon 0.2 mg/l herbicide
Dibromochloropropane(DBCP, Nemafume) 0.0002 mg/l pesticide, nematocide, soil fumigant
2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) 0.07 mg/l weed control, defoliant
2,4,5-TP (Silvex) 0.05 mg/l herbicide, defoliant
Di(diethylhexyl)adipate 0.4 mg/l plasticizer
Di(diethylhexyl)phthalate 0.006 mg/l plasticizer
Dinoseb (2,4-dinitro-6-sec-butylphenol) 0.007 mg/l insecticide, herbicide
Diquat 0.02 mg/l herbicide
Endothall 0.1 mg/l herbicide, defoliant
Endrin 0.002 mg/l insecticide
Ethylene Dibromide (EDB, Bromofume) 0.00005 mg/l gasoline additive, fumigants, & solvents
Glyphosate 0.7 mg/l herbicide
Heptachlor (H-34,Heptox) 0.0004 mg/l termite control
Heptachlor epoxide 0.0002 mg/l insecticide
Hexachlorobenzene 0.001 mg/l by-product of solvents & pesticides
Hexachlorocyclopentadiene 0.05 mg/l pesticide, fungicide
Lindane 0.0002 mg/l pesticide
Methoxychlor (DMDT, Marlate) 0.04 mg/l insecticide
Oxamyl (Vydate) 0.2 mg/l insecticide
Pentachlorophenol (PCP) 0.001 mg/l herbicide, fungicide, wood preservative
Picloram (Tordon) 0.5 mg/l herbicide, defoliant
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB, Aroclors) 0.0005 mg/l herbicide
Simazine 0.004 mg/l herbicide
2,3,7,8 TCDD (Dioxin) 3E-8 mg/l pesticide byproduct
Toxaphene 0.003 mg/l pesticide

Lead And Copper:

Lead and Copper Quick Reference Guide

High exposure to metals in humans has long been recognized as a cause of adverse health effects. Lead has been singled out because of its possible appearance in drinking water and its high toxicity to humans. Copper, although an essential nutrient, also poses a health threat at elevated levels. Young children are especially susceptible to the toxic effects of these metals.

Due to the use of lead and copper in pipe lines and in plumbing solder in years past, these contaminants have the possibility of leaching into the drinking water. Besides leaching from water pipes and solder, lead and copper can also leach from brass water faucet fixtures.

Because of this concern, Congress in the 1986 Safe Drinking Water Act amendments directed EPA to set regulations for both lead and copper in drinking water. The final regulations were adopted by EPA in 1991, and later adopted by reference in the Kansas Administrative Regulation 28-15a-80 through 28-15a-91.

This regulation applies to all community water systems, and non-community water systems that are also non-transient. These water systems are required to monitor for lead and copper on a scheduled basis. If monitoring results indicate unacceptable levels, the water system is required to initiate corrosion control treatment techniques to minimize lead and copper contamination. Action levels set by this regulation are 0.015 mg/l for lead and 1.3 mg/l for copper.

Disinfection By-Products:

Disinfection By-Products Quick Reference Guide

To ensure drinking water is safe and pathogen free it has to be disinfected. The most commonly used method of disinfection is chlorination. Unfortunately, when a disinfectant is added to water to kill pathogenic microorganisms, it reacts with naturally occurring organic matter that is found in all source waters to form disinfection byproducts (DBPs). These byproducts have been demonstrated to have adverse health effects, including cancer. The two most prevalent DBPs are total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and haloacetic acids (HAA5s). Starting January 1, 2004 all water systems which add a chemical disinfectant must begin complying with new MCLs of 0.080 mg/l for TTHMs and 0.060 mg/l for HAA5s established under the Stage 1 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule (D/DBPR).

The Stage 1 D/DBPR also establishes maximum residual disinfectant levels (MRDLs) for the disinfectant(s) (most commonly chlorine, chloramines, and chlorine dioxide) being used in your system. MRDL is the maximum amount of disinfectant allowed in the distribution system. The MRDL for chlorine and chloramines has been established at 4.0 mg/L, while the MRDL for chlorine dioxide has been set at 0.8 mg/L. Compliance with the MRDLs for chlorine and chloramines is based upon the concentration of disinfectant measured at the same times and locations in which your system collects bacteriological samples under the Total Coliform Rule. Compliance is determined based on a running annual average (RAA) of monthly averages.

Each system required to comply with the Stage 1 D/DBPR is required to develop and implement a monitoring plan that specifies 1) location and schedules for collecting all required samples, 2) procedures for calculating compliance with MCLs and MRDLs, and 3) if receiving water as a consecutive system or supplying water to a consecutive system, how the entire distribution system is represented. The plan shall be kept on file for review by the state.

Stage 1 D/DBPR Monitoring Plan Examples

Surface Water Treatment:

Almost one third of all public water supply systems in Kansas use surface water as part or all of their source. These systems provide drinking water to about two thirds of the Kansas population served by public water supply systems. Water for these systems comes from rivers or man-made reservoirs found throughout the state.

Unlike most groundwater that is protected by the earth's crust, surface water is exposed to the atmosphere and surface runoff. This exposure makes surface water more vulnerable to contamination than most groundwater. For this reason special regulations have been developed specifically for surface water and groundwater such as some springs which are vulnerable to surface contamination.

The Kansas Administrative Regulation 28-15a-70, 28-15a-72 through 28-15a-75 addresses specific treatment requirements for surface water. This regulation requires that surface water systems, "shall provide filtration and disinfection treatment of source water... Systems which do not meet the requirements ... are in violation...and shall issue public notice as required...."

This regulation requires systems to filter their raw water, and take and record turbidity readings of the finished water entering the distribution system. Water with high turbidity levels adversely affects the efficiency of the disinfection process, and causes the undesirable formation of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAA5s). For these reasons turbidity limits are set depending on the type of filtration used. A maximum of 1.0 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) is set for any one reading.

This regulation requires that the filtering process in conjunction with the disinfection treatment remove or inactivate 99.99 percent of viruses and 99.9 percent of Giardia Lamblia cysts. The presence of viruses in drinking water can cause stomach cramps and/or gastroenteritis (intestinal distress). The disinfectant concentration in the water entering the distribution system is required to be at least 0.2 mg/l of free chlorine or 1.0 mg/l of combined chlorine. These chlorine residual readings must be taken at set intervals and recorded by the water operator. Turbidity and disinfection records must be submitted to KDHE on a monthly basis for compliance determination.


Radionuclides Quick Reference Guide

Radiation occurs naturally and is readily present in the environment. Radiation in groundwater occurs mainly when the natural decay of uranium in rocks and soil comes in contact with groundwater. In most circumstances, this radiation occurs at such low levels as to be harmless to human health. Occasionally, in some areas of the state these radiation levels do occur at higher levels which may present a health risk. For this reason, regulations have been legislated requiring public water supply systems to monitor their water for radionuclides. The following table shows radiological contaminants and their corresponding MCLs as set by K.A.R. 28-15a-66.

Contaminant Source/Uses MCL
Gross alpha natural decay of uranium in rocks and soil 15 pCi/l
Gross beta natural decay of uranium in rocks and soil, nuclear weapon production, pharmaceuticals. 50 pCi/l or 4 mrem/yr
Combined Radium
(Radium 226 + Radium 228)
natural decay of uranium in rocks and soil 5 pCi/l
Strontium-90 artificial isotope, used in research and medicine, in industrial density measuring devices, in atomic batteries, in luminous paint. 8 pCi/l
Tritium man-made isotope, used as chemical tracer in research, in nuclear weapons production, in luminous instrument dials. 20,000 pCi/l
Uranium Erosion of natural deposits 30 ug/l

Key: pCi/l = picoCurie per liter
mrem/yr = millirem per year