Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs)

A Guide to Understanding Your CCR

A Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), which can be called an annual water quality report or a drinking water quality report, provides information on your local drinking water quality. Every community water supplier must provide an annual report by July 1 of each year to its customers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Consumer Confidence Report Ruleexternal icon.

Questions About Consumer Confidence Reports

Most public water suppliersexternal icon are required to provide CCRs annually to their customers. People who do not pay their own water bills, such as those who live in apartments or condos or rent houses, may need to contact a building manager for more information or check onlineexternal icon to see if their CCR has been posted.

People who get their water from a private ground water well do not receive CCRs. Unlike public water systems, private wells are not regulated by EPA so there is no requirement for a CCR. To learn more about safe water, maintaining private wells, and well testing, please visit CDC’s Private Ground Water Wells page.

All CCRs must contain certain content elements. The specific information in your CCR is tailored to your local water system and will include:

Your water source, such as a lake, river, or public well

Knowing your water source is important because germs, chemicals, and minerals—known as “contaminants”—may exist at varying levels, depending on the source.

Levels of contaminants in your water source

Keep in mind that while some things listed as “contaminants” in your CCR can be harmful to your health, others can be good for you, such as the appropriate amount of a disinfectant that keeps your water safe from germs. For example, if your local water system adds chlorine or chloramine to protect you from germs in the water, it will be listed as a contaminant, even though these chemicals are added to kill germs and protect your health. Knowing what levels of contaminants are in your water source—and whether those contaminants are actually harmful—can help you to determine whether or not you should take additional precautions in protecting yourself and your family from potential water-related illnesses.

EPA standards for safe contaminant levels

The EPA determines what levels of contaminants are safe to have in your water, and your CCR will show you whether or not your water source has a higher level of contaminants than recommended. It is most important to pay attention to whether contaminant levels are marked as “violated,” meaning the level is higher than EPA allows. This will be the best indication of how the contaminants in your water source might affect your health. 

Information about Cryptosporidium

All CCRs are required to provide general information on Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause a severe diarrheal illness, because it can be dangerous for persons with severely weakened immune systems, even at low levels. It is also very tolerant of chlorine disinfection. This section exists on every CCR and does not necessarily indicate the presence of Cryptosporidium in your drinking water.

Other relevant information about your water

CCRs often include additional information tailored to your water source that will help to provide a better understanding of where your water comes from and how safe it is.

Look below to view the sections of a sample CCR, which provides detailed information on how to read and interpret your CCR.

If you have questions or concerns about the content of your CCR, you have multiple options:

See and Understand a Sample CCR

All CCRs must contain certain content elements, such as those listed above. Because the specific information in your CCR is tailored to your local water system, not all CCRs look alike. Report may be called a “Consumer Confidence Report,” “Water Quality Report,” or another similar title. Because of the length of the report we have broken it down into four sections.

Sample CCR

  • Date
    Report, which should be received every year by July 1, shows the findings of water testing from the previous calendar year. Your current CCR, for example, will display information about your drinking water from the previous year.
  • Spanish (Español)
    Where there are large non-English speaking populations, water providers are required to provide information about the CCR in the relevant language(s).
  • Is my water safe?
    A water provider may choose to include an introductory statement about the past year’s water quality results and compliance.
  • Do I need to take special precautions?
    CCRs must state that some people may be more at risk of getting ill than others from chemicals or germs that can be found in water. Examples of people who should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers are highlighted.
  • Where does my water come from?
    The source of the water delivered by a water provider (wells vs. rivers or lakes) must be included, and generally where that source is located.

Click to see an image of a sample report for these above sections.

  • Source water assessment and its availability
    If an assessment, like laboratory testing, was conducted on your water source, this report lets you know how you may access the findings. The report may also show these results, such as the quantity and names of chemicals and germs found in your water source. 
  • Why are there contaminants in my drinking water?
    Contaminants (germs or chemicals) can be from natural sources like rock (arsenic) or can be introduced by animals, people or industrial sites dumping contaminants either directly in the water or in places where they can travel to water through the ground, like during a rainstorm. Some of these contaminants may not be removed through water treatments.
  • How can I get involved?
    All CCRs must provide information on opportunities for the public to participate in decisions that affect the quality of local drinking water.
  • Monitoring and reporting of compliance data violations
    If the level of a contaminant in drinking water is more than what the EPA considers to be safe (see the Water Data Quality Table), those violations must be explained, including how they may affect health and how they are being addressed or fixed.

Click to see an image of a sample report for these above sections.

  • Additional information for Lead
    An educational statement about lead is required on each CCR, even if lead is not present in your water source.
  • Additional information for Nitrate
    nformational statements on contaminants like nitrate may also be included in a CCR, when a system detects nitrate at levels above 5 mg/L (see table for explanations of this measure) but below the MCL Maximum Contaminant Level, or MCL (see Water Quality Data Table).

    Additional information for Arsenic must be included if a system detects arsenic above 0.005 mg/L and up to and including 0.010 mg/L. In many cases, this means arsenic is a natural part of the rocks in your area and over time it has leached out of the rocks and contaminated  your water source.

  • Water Quality Data Table

    water quality table

    Contaminants: Contaminants, as seen in this table, are not all “bad.” Contaminants are anything found in your water other than hydrogen and oxygen, which make up water, and can be both healthy and unhealthy, depending on the particular substance and quantity.

    MCLG: If the level of a contaminant in your drinking water is  below the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) number indicated, then there is no known or expected risk to your health.

    MRDLG: If the level of the drinking water disinfectant used by your water supplier is below the Maximum Residual Disinfection Level Goal number indicated (MRDLG), then there is no known or expected risk to your health. MRDLGs do not reflect potential benefits of disinfectants.

    MCL: The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water is the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). Contaminant levels above the MCL numbers indicated are a violation of EPA regulation.

    TT: Treatment Technique. A required process intended to reduce the level of a contaminant in drinking water.

    MRDL: The highest level of a disinfectant allowed in your drinking water is the Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level (MRDL). A certain amount of disinfectant has been shown to help control germs in the water.

    Your water: Contaminants that exist in your water source.

    Range detected: The “range” on your CCR refers to the levels—both high and low—at which contaminants were detected in your drinking water. A range of levels may exist due to changes  in contaminant levels during a calendar year.

    Sample date: The date on which a sample from your water system was collected.

    Violation: A violation indicates that the level of a contaminant in your drinking water has exceeded the maximum level allowed for that contaminant by EPA. Refer to the explanation provided (in this sample titled “Violations and Exceedances: Atrazine”) for more information.

    Typical sources: Contaminant sources, such as runoff or erosion, are indicated here.

    Contaminant name: The names of specific contaminants are indicated under each contaminant category (like chloramine under Disinfectants).

    Contaminant categories: This line in the table shows what group of contaminants is being listed. This usually includes categories such as Disinfectants (like chlorine and chloramine), Inorganic Contaminants (like fluoride, nitrate, and lead), and Organic Contaminants (like atrazine and benzene), but other categories may be seen here as well depending on your water system. 

    Amount detected: The amount of each contaminant found in your water source will be shown here.

Click to see a large image of a sample report of these sections.

  • AL
    action level - The concentration of a contaminant that signals the need for additional treatment or other required actions by the water system.
    Action Level. The concentration of a contaminant that signals the need for additional treatment or other required actions by the water system.
  • Violations and Exceedances: Atrazine
    EPA requires that violations of allowable contaminant levels be explained, including the length of time the violation occurred, any potential bad health effects that the violation could cause, and how the violation is being addressed or fixed.

Click to see a large image sample of these sections.