US EPA has finalized UCMR 5. Now you can plan your program. What you need to know:

U.S. EPA required UCMR 5 Chemical TestingUCMR 5 more than doubles the number of Public Water Systems (PWS) that are required to participate. In past rounds systems that serve greater than 10,000 people and 800 randomly selected smaller systems were required to participate. Going forward all systems that serve 3,300 to 10,000 people are also required to participate. EPA is responsible for the costs of testing and sample shipment for all small systems that serve 10,000 people or less. Some states take on the responsibility of contracting with UCMR-approved laboratories on behalf of their water systems. All other water systems must work directly with the laboratories for their testing.

The US EPA will notify all water systems and UCMR approved laboratories during 2022 to provide instructions and training on how to use the Safe Drinking Water Accession and Review System (SDWARS). SDWARS is the online data reporting system used by PWSs and EPA‐approved UCMR 5 laboratories to report results. It is accessible at the username/password protected EPA Central Data Exchange (CDX), which is the Agency’s electronic reporting site for all programs.  Refer to All systems must set up their accounts and register their sampling locations in SDWARS by December 31, 2022.

Other key requirements include:

  • US EPA will assign each water system a 12-month sampling schedule during the 3-year UCMR 5 study period during 2022. The sampling schedules will be assigned in SDWARS.
  • Groundwater systems will be required to sample semi-annually, once every 6 months during the assigned 12-month sampling schedule.
  • Surface water and Groundwater Under the Direct Influence (GWUDI) of surface water systems will be required to sample quarterly, four times during the assigned 12-month sampling schedule.
  • Sampling will occur at Entry Points to the Distribution System (EPTDS). No sampling of untreated source water or at Distribution System (DS) locations is required.
  • Large groundwater systems (or large surface water systems with ground water sources) may reduce their sampling points by using an approved Ground Water Representative Monitoring Plans (GWRMPs). The GWRMPs approved under prior UCMRs may be used for UCMR 5, presuming no significant changes in the configuration of the ground water EPTDSs since the prior approval. Water systems that intend to use a previously approved plan must send EPA a copy of the approved documents received under prior UCMRs from their state (if reviewed by the state) or EPA. The GWRMPs must be submitted to EPA six months prior to the PWS’s scheduled sample collection
  • Consecutive systems with multiple connections from a particular wholesaler are permitted to choose one entry point as representative. Approval by EPA is not required, and the representative connection information must be uploaded into SDWARS.
  • All samples must be tested for 29 PFAS contaminants by EPA 537.1 (4 contaminants) and EPA 533 (25 contaminants). Testing for Lithium by EPA 200.7 is also required. Each of the PFAS samples will be required to include a Field Reagent Blank per EPA test method to ensure that cross contamination did not occur during sampling. Cross contamination during sampling is a concern due to the prevalence of PFAS in clothing, field equipment, and personal care products we use every day. This is especially important since PFAS concentrations are reported at very low detection limits (i.e., single digit ng/L or ppt). As a result, special precautions are required during sampling.

EPA requires that all testing be performed by EPA-approved laboratories. Pace® is EPA-approved for UCMR 5. Having analyzed upwards of 100,000 samples under EPA UCMR 3 and UCMR 4 programs, the Pace UCMR team is nationally recognized. Key members of our team are regular presenters at the nation’s water utility conferences.

  • Pace® provides sampling and analysis of UCMR and regulated contaminant samples for water systems across the country.
  • In addition to EPA-approval for UCMR 5 Pace® is certified by every state and US territory for analysis of drinking water samples for compliance monitoring of regulated contaminants. In some states this already includes PFAS and 1,4-Dioxane.
  • Pace® provides services to assist water systems in setting up their SDWARS accounts.

Contact one of our UCMR experts for additional information

The UCMR timeline:

1/19/21 – EPA announces its intent to issue the UCMR 5 proposal for public comment.

1/21/21 – The incoming administration issues a freeze on the proposal to give the new EPA administrators a chance to review it.

2/22/21 – EPA announces its intent to move forward with UCMR 5 as proposed.

3/11/21 – EPA publishes the UCMR 5 proposal in the Federal Register, triggering the 60-day public comment period.

5/10/21 – Deadline for public comment submission.

9/30/21 – Pace® Analytical receives EPA Provisional Approval for all methods required for UCMR 5.

12/20/21 – EPA finalized the Rule and left the proposal requirements as is.

12/20/21 – With the Rule being finalized as is Pace® became an officially approved UCMR 5 laboratory.

2023 – Sampling begins.

2025 – Sampling ends.

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Choosing a UCMR 5 Approved Lab

UCMR 5 requires that all labs providing UCMR 5 testing services be approved by EPA. Having analyzed upwards of 100,000 samples under EPA UCMR 3 and 4 programs, the Pace UCMR team is nationally recognized; and its members are regular presenters at the nation’s water utility conferences. In anticipation of this event, the Pace team started preparing for EPA’s rigorous approval process for UCMR 5 in 2019.

While sampling for UCMR 5 isn’t set to begin until 2023, we’re already working with clients to help them develop a plan and budget for the pending UCMR 5 requirements. Reach out to us with your questions or to schedule a virtual presentation for your organization.



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