The NSF Water Treatment and Distribution Systems program came into existence as a result of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts in 1979 to carry out its mandate to review past advisory opinions, develop test protocols and decision criteria, and ultimately resume offering toxicological opinions on drinking water additives to all states.
Resource, budget and priority constraints precluded development of test protocols and decision criteria with current risk assessment models and verification of manufacturer test data. EPA determined that the private sector could better handle this large, complex program. The costs incurred in a private sector Water Treatment and Distribution Systems program would be borne by the product/material manufacturers instead of taxpayers, even though these costs eventually trickled down to the consumer in the form of slightly-higher costs for drinking water.
For these reasons, EPA decided that assigning the responsibility to the private sector for developing consensus standards would be the best approach. All products added to drinking water or coming into contact with drinking water during treatment, storage, transmission, or distribution fall within the overall scope of the program.
In early 1985, the EPA initiated the development of the Drinking Water Additives third-party program by awarding a cooperative agreement to a consortium led by NSF. The consortium members included the American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AWWARF), the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) and the Conference of State Health and Environmental (COSHEM), and the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Since that time, the COSHEM organization has been dissolved.
NSF, an independent voluntary consensus standards and third-party certification organization, was awarded the lead role in the program; and, as in its other programs, worked closely with industry, regulatory agencies, product users, and others to develop equitable, practical standards and an objective product certification program that effectively serves all interested parties.