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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Division of Water

Division of Water
Public Notification

The owner or operator of a public water system is required to notify its customers when (1) the system fails to comply with drinking water regulations, (2) the system has a variance or exemption from drinking water regulations or (3) the system is facing some other situation posing a public health risk. A consecutive water system is responsible for notifying its own customers. The regulations set the requirements for public notification to include mandatory language, content, manner and frequency. 

Tier 1 public notification requires consultation with the Compliance and Technical Assistance Drinking Water Section. Call Maggie Mahan at 502-782−6136 or email  

Who issues a public notification (PN)?

The public water system will issue a public notification to their customers. The water system with the violation must notify any consecutive water systems to which it sells water. The consecutive system is then responsible for public notification of its own customers. A consecutive water system means two or more public water systems with interconnected distribution systems, the effect of which is to distribute water from one system to the next.

Anatomy of a PN – The three tiers.

Public notification is based on three tiers of violations that pose a risk to public health. The tiers take into consideration the seriousness of the violation and of potential adverse health effects that may be involved. Each tier has specific notification and delivery requirements.

Tier 1:  Serious or immediate health risk -- requires notification to customers within 24 hours. 
Tier 2:  Little immediate health risk -- requires notification to customers within 30 days. 
Tier 3:  Minimal health risk -- requires notification to customers within one year.

The regulation includes standard language for health effects and standard language for monitoring and testing. The contents for each public notice must address 10 specific points:

  1. A description of the violation or situation.
  2. When the violation or situation occurred.
  3. Potential health effects.
  4. The population at risk.
  5. If alternate water supplies should be used.
  6. Actions consumers should take.
  7. What is being done to correct the violation or problem.
  8. When the system expects to return to compliance.
  9. Name, address and phone number of contact for more information.
  10. Standard distribution language.

Click here to view an example of a public notice for drinking water.

Within 10 days after the water system has issued a public notice, the system must submit a certification to the state. Click here to download a PDF version of the certification form. Mail the certification to Maggie Mahan ATTN: PN, Drinking Water Section, 300 Sower Blvd.,3rd floor, Frankfort, KY 40601.

For record-keeping purposes, all public notices and certifications must be retained for three years.

EPA's Web site for public notification contains fact sheets, guides, handbooks, required elements of a public notice and Envirofacts.  The Envirofacts system provides information on violations reported and enforcement actions taken against individual water systems since 1993. Instructions and templates are available in EPA's Public Notification Handbook, revised in March 2010. 

Here is a link to the revised Public Notification Handbook for Transient Non-Community Water Systems.

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