OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

June 10, 1997

Mr. Kevin Kraft, President
Kraft Gardens
600 South Powerline Road
Deerfield Beach, Florida 33442

Dear Mr. Kraft:

This is in response to your letter dated March 14, to U.S. Senator Connie Mack regarding your concern about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation on "piped" potable water supply. Senator Mack has forwarded your letter to me for a response.

Two of the OSHA standards that define "Potable water," which could apply to you, are OSHA's sanitation standard for general industry, and OSHA's field sanitation standard for agriculture.

The sanitation standard for general industry (29 CFR 1910.141(a)(2)) defines "Potable water" as water that meets the quality standards prescribed in the U.S. Public Health Service Drinking Water Standards, published in 42 CFR Part 72
1, or water which is approved for drinking purposes by the State or local authority having jurisdiction.

The field sanitation standard for agriculture (29 CFR 1928.110) defines "Potable water" as water that meets the standards of drinking purposes of the state or local authority having jurisdiction, or water that meets the quality standards prescribed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Interim Primary Drinking Water Regulations, published in 40 CFR Part 141.

If the water your company uses for drinking and personal service rooms meets the appropriate definition of potable water, then OSHA's standard is satisfied. OSHA's standard does not require testing of the water or that the water be piped. It also does not bar the use of bottled water. Copies of 1910.141 and 1928.110 are attached.

Upon reading the news clipping from Greenline dated February 16, which was attached to your letter, it appears that many small public water systems in the state of Florida may have been found to not meet the above definition of potable water. This could be either because they did not meet the U.S. Public Health Service Drinking Water Standards published in 45 CFR Part 72, or did not meet state or local standards for drinking water. If that was the case, then that could be the reason why the Florida legislature revoked the bottled water exemption. The legislature's concerns go beyond the issue of employee health, which is OSHA's concern, to that of public health.

If you have any questions, contact [the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1628].


Greg Watchman
Acting Assistant Secretary





142 CFR Part 72 as it appears in 1910.141(a)(2) has been redesignated to 21 CFR 1240.3(m) and 1250.3(j). The source of this redesignation is the Federal Register dated February 6, 1975. EPA regulations on potable water are codified at 40 CFR Part 141, National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. [ back to text ]

[Corrected 11/12/2003]