Along with the ADWR webpage and ADWR manual, the following documents provided our team insights on the workings of airline water regulations.
August 2005: Administrative Order on Consent and Request for Information (Order) that resolves American Airlines, Inc.’s non-compliance with the Safe Drinking Water (Act) and the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations
August 10, 2005: Administrative Order on Consent and Request for Information (Order) that resolves Northwest Airlines, Inc.’s non-compliance with the Safe Drinking Water (Act) and the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations
July 8, 2008: Comments of the Air Line Pilots Association, International on the EPA Proposed Rule – National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Drinking Water Regulations for Aircraft Public Water Systems
KEY ADWR DEFINITIONS
- National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, Subpart X: Aircraft Drinking Water Rule (EPA)
- Interstate Conveyance Sanitation (FDA)
Air carrier: a person who undertakes directly by lease, or other arrangement, to engage in air transportation. The air carrier is responsible for ensuring all of the aircraft it owns or operates that are public water systems comply with all provisions of this subpart [ADWR, CFR Subpart X]
Aircraft: means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.
Aircraft Water System: an aircraft that qualifies as a public water system under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the national primary drinking water regulations. The components of an aircraft water system include the water service panel, the filler neck of the aircraft finished water storage tank, and all finished water storage tanks, piping, treatment equipment, and plumbing fixtures within the aircraft that supply water for human consumption to passengers or crew.
Aircraft Water System Operations and Maintenance Plan: the schedules and procedures for operating, monitoring, and maintaining an aircraft water system that is included in an aircraft operation and maintenance program accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Certified Laboratories: for the purpose of determining compliance with this subpart, samples may be considered only if they have been analyzed by a laboratory certified by a State or EPA. For the purposes of this paragraph, “State” refers to a State or Tribe that has received primacy for public water systems (other than aircraft water systems) under section 1413 of SDWA.
Conveyance: any land or air carrier
Finished Water: water that is introduced into the distribution system of a public water system and is intended for distribution and consumption without further treatment, except as treatment necessary to maintain water quality in the distribution system (e.g., booster disinfection, addition of corrosion control chemicals).
[Water used for] Human Consumption: [water used for] drinking, bathing, showering, hand washing, teeth brushing, food preparation, dishwashing, and maintaining oral hygiene.
Public Water System: a system for the provision to the public of water for human consumption through pipes or, after August 5, 1998, other constructed conveyances, if such system has at least fifteen service connections or regularly serves an average of at least twenty-five individuals daily at least 60 days out of the year. Such term includes: any collection, treatment, storage, and distribution facilities under control of the operator of such system and used primarily in connection with such system; and any collection or pretreatment storage facilities not under such control which are used primarily in connection with such system. Such term does not include any ‘‘special irrigation district.’’ A public water system is either a ‘‘community water system’’ or a ‘‘noncommunity water system.’’
Routine Monitoring: For each aircraft water system, the sampling frequency must be determined by the disinfection and flushing frequency recommended by the aircraft water system manufacturer, when available, and as identified in the operations and maintenance plan.
Self-Inspection: an onsite review of the aircraft water system, including the water service panel, the filler neck of the aircraft finished water storage tank; all finished water storage tanks, piping, treatment equipment, and plumbing fixtures; and a review of the aircraft operations, maintenance, monitoring, and recordkeeping for the purpose of evaluating the adequacy of such water system components and practices for providing safe drinking water to passengers and crew.
Transient non-community water systems: means a non-community water system that does not regularly serve at least 25 of the same persons over six months per year.
Watering Point: means the water supply, methods, and facilities used for the delivery of finished water to the aircraft. These facilities may include water trucks, carts, cabinets, and hoses.
Useful Background Articles and Reports
- Airplane Drinking Water Is ‘frequently Contaminated’: Epa Finds Coliform Bacteria In 12% Of Plane Tap (Medical Daily)
- Are Drinking Water and Ice on U.S. Airlines Safe? (Water Quality and Health Council)
- Here’s Why Flight Attendants Avoid Drinking Tap Water On Airplanes (Business Insider)
- Is Airplane Water Too Dirty To Drink? (Dr. Weil)
- There’s A Good Chance The Water You Drink On A Plane Could Contain Fecal Bacteria (Insider)
- Water on Airplanes is Basically E. coli Soup (New York Post)
- Why You Should Never Order Tap Water on a Plane (Reader’s Digest)
- Why You Should Think Twice Before Drinking Tap Water on a Plane, According to a Flight Attendant (TIME)
Useful Background Studies
- Assessment of the Bacterial Diversity of Aircraft Water: Identification of the Frequent Fliers (PLOS One)
- Bacteria that Travel: The Quality of Aircraft Water (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
- Microbial Burden And Diversity Of Commercial Airline Cabin Air During Short And Long Durations Of Travel (ISME)