Safe Drinking Water


The Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program (SDWRPP) was launched in November of 2016 at the Northeast-Midwest Institute and builds on the Institute’s long-standing engagement in water quality research, policy analysis, and education and outreach relating to water quality and safe drinking water by expanding its capabilities to the region more broadly. With a multiphase approach, the program works toward solving imminent, critical issues regarding revision of the Lead and Copper Rule while also building a regional and national awareness of the need for solving drinking water issues. Through the development of scientific, non-partisan, and independent research and policy analysis, the program seeks to use objective data findings to inform and provide technical assistance and education to policy-makers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support local and regional drinking water policy improvements.

The Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program will:

  • Develop science and policy research that addresses issues surrounding lead in drinking water to be presented to members of Congress and other regional decision-makers to improve drinking water policy.
  • Identify and compile critical information gaps, including appropriate water quality sampling, consumer education, and implementation issues to inform regulatory revisions and policy updates to increase public health protection under the Lead and Copper Rule and related legislation.
  • Develop and implement a program for minimizing lead in drinking water in Detroit, Michigan that will inform policy recommendations for the entire region and, more specifically, proactively address lead in drinking water in large older cities.
  • Bring national awareness to safe drinking water needs as well as potential solutions, as part of a long-term strategy to address local and NEMW regional concerns.


In its first year, the SDWRPP is focusing on identifying and filling critical information gaps related to lead in drinking water, including appropriate water quality sampling, consumer education, and implementation issues. This work informs improved policy and regulation to increase public health protection in the Lead and Copper Rule and related legislation. The Northeast-Midwest Institute is building on this work to expand its relationships, connections, and recognition as it develops the Program longer-term to build a Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Center that examines a more complete scope of drinking water issues.

Another research priority of the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program is the development and implementation of a model program for minimizing lead in drinking water in Detroit, Michigan. The Program is assessing the presence of lead in drinking water throughout the City of Detroit and developing short- and long-term strategies for minimizing exposure to lead through drinking water. These strategies include improving public notice and public education regarding lead in drinking water, updating and maintaining service line records, and designing a lead service line replacement program. While providing technical assistance to the City of Detroit, the Program is collecting information that informs more broadly policy and implementation needs to improve public health protection under the Lead and Copper Rule. The work in Detroit also provides a model for proactively addressing lead in drinking water in large older cities.

Research and policy analysis will include:

  • Targeted scientific and policy research papers examining ongoing technical and policy issues related to the Lead and Copper Rule such as appropriate water quality sampling, consumer education, funding and implementation issues.
  • Research to identify effective implementation strategies that improve the public health protection and enforceability of the revised Lead and Copper Rule.
  • Policy analysis in which regulations and legislation are examined and evaluated to identify their effectiveness for ensuring safe drinking water.
  • Research on treatment, sampling, recordkeeping, and public education strategies for minimizing exposure to lead in drinking water and improving standard procedures to proactively protect public health.

In the future, the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program will expand its scope to address safe drinking water more broadly, and coupled with the engagement of a group of funders, will build a Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Center. The Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program will approach safe drinking water policy as the essential foundation of an effective and sustainable integrated water resource management paradigm.


Briefings, Updates, and Webinars

The SDWRPP partners with fellow advocacy groups, government agencies and task forces, and stakeholder organizations to make these briefings comprehensive and useful to all perspectives. SDWRPP uses NEMWI’s vast network of congressional contacts to secure reservations of Capitol Hill briefing rooms in order to make the briefings convenient and accessible to congressional staff looking to learn more about safe drinking water issues and connect with SDWRPP’s network of experts.

Recent Policy Analysis

Media Coverage

City of Detroit Work


The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

The SDWRPP is proud to be supported by The Mott Foundation, and works towards its core values of securing clean, sustainable water for people of the Great Lakes basin; as well as advancing the basin’s resilience against the impacts of climate change. Working in conjunction with the NEMWI’s Great Lakes Washington Program, the SDWRPP also works to advance The Mott Foundation’s goal of tackling the Flint Water Crisis and protecting other populations living in areas of aging water infrastructure.


Sri Vedachalam — Director

Dr. Sridhar (Sri) Vedachalam’s responsibilities include completing a State of the Region Report funded by the US Geological Survey that examines water monitoring in the region, a new study of drinking water treatment costs on the Mississippi River, and ongoing research relating to safe drinking water.

He is author and co-author of numerous articles in scientific journals.  His expertise in environmental science, water quality, drinking water, and water infrastructure, and his academic training in science, engineering, and economics enable a holistic approach to critical water issues facing the region. His work on the Mohawk and Hudson River watersheds in New York addressed not just regional, but nationally relevant issues, such as affordability, aging infrastructure, extreme weather impacts, financing, and non-point source pollution. He has worked closely with community groups, and local and state agencies, and values these partnerships in dealing with the complex challenges facing the water sector.

During 2017 Dr. Vedachalam served as an Environmental Legislative Fellow in Congressman Matthew Cartwright’s House office.  Previously he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health from 2015 to 2016 and a Post-Doctoral Associate at the New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell University from 2011 to 2015.

Dr. Vedachalam holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from The Ohio State University (2011), a Master of Science in Agricultural, Environmental, and Developmental Economics (2010), and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (2007).

He can be reached at or 202-464-4005

Michael J. Goff — Management of Policy Education and Outreach

Dr. Michael J. Goff is President and CEO of the Northeast-Midwest Institute. A native of Philadelphia, he spent much of his career in Baltimore, and more recently in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Goff has three decades of senior executive experience in management, development, and communications, and a long-standing interest in government, public policy, and nonprofit institutions. From 2011 to 2015, he served as senior vice president and chief development officer at Independent Sector, a leadership organization representing and serving the nonprofit and philanthropic community nationwide. Dr. Goff also served for 21 years as vice president for development and college relations at Loyola University Maryland, from 1987 to 2008.

Dr. Goff earned a Ph.D. in Government at Georgetown University in 2002, specializing in American Politics, Public Policy, and Political Theory. He also holds an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Political Science from Saint Joseph’s University. His research on the impact of money and the media during the early stage of the presidential nomination process was published in 2004 in his book The Money Primary: The New Politics of the Early Presidential Nomination Process.

He can be reached at or 202-464-4010.