Primacy Fee

Primacy Fee

The Drinking Water Primacy Fee: What Does the Fee Do for You? – PUB2229

Water Protection Program fact sheet
Division of Environmental Quality Director: Kyra Moore
In 1992, the Missouri legislature enacted the public drinking water primacy fee to support the department’s efforts to ensure Missourians have access to adequate water that is safe to drink. The primacy fee provides critical funding for laboratory services and activities the state must perform in order to maintain delegation of the federal drinking water program. This delegation is called “primacy.” In the 49 states that have primacy, public drinking water systems are regulated by a state agency instead of the federal government. Without the primacy fee, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources would lack the funding to implement critical regulations necessary for protecting public health and maintaining primacy. Regulation of Missouri’s public water systems would revert to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The primacy fee is a user fee, paid by the customers of Missouri’s public water supply systems and set by state law .Approximately $4.6 million per year is generated by the fee. Two percent of the primacy fee goes to the public water system to cover the costs of collecting the fee. The remainder is forwarded to the Missouri Department of Revenue for use by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The department uses the primacy fee to fund testing for drinking water contaminants, inspections, compliance activities, complaint investigations and technical assistance. In 2010, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began receiving an appropriation from the primacy fee for their bacteriological work. Previously this work was funded by general revenue – about $455,000 annually.

The benefits of the primacy fee to public water systems:

  • Laboratory testing services provided by the state
  • Reduced monitoring to match contamination risk, based on vulnerability assessments provided by the department
  • Water system inspections and compliance oversight provided by the department to satisfy federal requirements
  • Technical assistance from the department to help maintain and achieve compliance and improved customer satisfaction
  • Access to low-interest loans for capital improvements from the state revolving fund
  • Additional operator training opportunities funded by the state revolving fund

Historically, maintaining primacy has saved Missouri public water systems and the public water system customers about $6.5 million per year. Over the next three years, Missouri water systems would have to pay more than $15 million if they were to pay for their own testing. This is because public water systems would have to do more monitoring under the federal regulation than they do under state regulation. Vulnerability assessments performed by the department reduce the amount of monitoring by approximately 75%. EPA does not perform such assessments and would require the full scope of monitoring. Also, the state laboratory can perform tests for significantly less than a water system would have to pay on the open market. The costs of the increased monitoring would inevitably affect customer water bills.

In 2006 the Missouri Legislature increased the drinking water primacy fee and extended it through Sept. 1, 2012. The fee increase was necessary to help the department implement new federal rules that dramatically increased the state’s monitoring costs. In 2012 the legislature extended the fee through Sept. 1, 2017.

Community public water supply systems collect the fee according to this rate table, based on the system’s number of active service connections.Previous ColumnNext Column

Residential Customers – Number of Connections Fee Effective Jan. 1, 2022
1 to 10 Connections $50*
11 to 10,000 Connections $5.28 per connection
10,001 to 50,000 Connections $4.80 per connection
50,001 to 100,000 Connections $4.20 per connection
More than 100,000 Connections $3.48 per connection
Meters greater than 1″, but less than or equal to 2″ $21
Meters greater than 2″ but less than or equal to 4″ $102
Meters greater than 4″ $198

Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.

For more information

Water Protection Program


1101 Riverside Drive
PO Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176
United States
Main – 573-751-1300
Toll-free – 800-361-4827
Fax – 573-526-1146
Email –