< Back to S. 3127 (107th Congress, 2001–2002)

Text of the Private Well Testing Assistance Act

This bill was introduced on October 17, 2002, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Oct 17, 2002 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

S 3127 IS

107th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 3127

To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide assistance to States to support testing of private wells in areas of suspected contamination to limit or prevent human exposure to contaminated groundwater.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

October 17, 2002

Mr. REED (for himself and Mr. FITZGERALD) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works


A BILL

To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide assistance to States to support testing of private wells in areas of suspected contamination to limit or prevent human exposure to contaminated groundwater.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Private Well Testing Assistance Act’.

SEC. 2. ASSISTANCE FOR TESTING OF PRIVATE WELLS.

    Part E of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300j et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

‘SEC. 1459. ASSISTANCE FOR TESTING OF PRIVATE WELLS.

    ‘(a) FINDINGS- Congress finds that--

      ‘(1) more than 15,100,000 households in the United States are served by private drinking water wells;

      ‘(2) while private well owners generally are responsible for regular testing of drinking water wells for the presence of contaminants, cases of serious or potentially widespread groundwater contamination often require State health and environmental agencies to conduct costly tests on numerous drinking water well sites;

      ‘(3) many of those sites are included in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System of the Environmental Protection Agency, through which Federal funding is available for testing of private wells during initial site assessments but not for subsequent regular sampling to ensure that contaminants have not migrated to other wells;

      ‘(4) many State governments do not have the resources to provide regular, reliable testing of drinking water wells that are located in proximity to areas of suspected groundwater contamination;

      ‘(5) State fiscal conditions, already in decline before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, are rapidly approaching a state of crisis;

      ‘(6) according to the National Conference of State Legislatures--

        ‘(A) revenues in 43 States are below estimates; and

        ‘(B) 36 States have already planned or implemented cuts in public services;

      ‘(7) as a result of those economic conditions, most States do not have drinking water well testing programs in place, and many State well testing programs have been discontinued, placing households served by private drinking water wells at increased risk; and

      ‘(8) the provision of Federal assistance, with a State cost-sharing requirement, would establish an incentive for States to provide regular testing of drinking water wells in proximity to new and existing areas of suspected groundwater contamination.

    ‘(b) DEFINITIONS- In this section:

      ‘(1) ADMINISTRATOR- The term ‘Administrator’ means the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, acting in consultation with appropriate State agencies.

      ‘(2) AREA OF CONCERN- The term ‘area of concern’ means a geographic area in a State the groundwater of which may, as determined by the State--

        ‘(A) be contaminated or threatened by a release of 1 or more substances of concern; and

        ‘(B) present a serious threat to human health.

      ‘(3) HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE- The term ‘hazardous substance’ has the meaning given the term in section 101 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601).

      ‘(4) POLLUTANT OR CONTAMINANT- The term ‘pollutant or contaminant’ has the meaning given the term in section 101 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601).

      ‘(5) SUBSTANCE OF CONCERN- The term ‘substance of concern’ means--

        ‘(A) a hazardous substance;

        ‘(B) a pollutant or contaminant;

        ‘(C) petroleum (including crude oil and any fraction of crude oil);

        ‘(D) methyl tertiary butyl ether; and

        ‘(E) such other naturally-occurring or other substances (including arsenic, beryllium, and chloroform) as the Administrator, in consultation with appropriate State agencies, may identify by regulation.

    ‘(c) ESTABLISHMENT OF PROGRAM- Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator shall establish a program to provide funds to each State for use in testing private wells in the State.

    ‘(d) DETERMINATION OF AREAS OF CONCERN- Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator shall promulgate regulations that describe criteria to be used by a State in determining whether an area in the State is an area of concern, including a definition of the term ‘threat to human health’.

    ‘(e) APPLICATION PROCESS-

      ‘(1) IN GENERAL- A State that seeks to receive funds under this section shall submit to the Administrator, in such form and containing such information as the Administrator may prescribe, an application for the funds.

      ‘(2) CERTIFICATION- A State application described in paragraph (1) shall include a certification by the Governor of the State of the potential threat to human health posed by groundwater in each area

of concern in the State, as determined in accordance with the regulations promulgated by the Administrator under subsection (d).

      ‘(3) PROCESSING- Not later than 15 days after the Administrator receives an application under this subsection, the Administrator shall approve or disapprove the application.

    ‘(f) PROVISION OF FUNDING-

      ‘(1) IN GENERAL- If the Administrator approves an application of a State under subsection (e)(3), the Administrator shall provide to the State an amount of funds to be used to test private wells in the State that--

        ‘(A) is determined by the Administrator based on--

          ‘(i) the number of private wells to be tested;

          ‘(ii) the prevailing local cost of testing a well in each area of concern in the State; and

          ‘(iii) the types of substances of concern for which each well is to be tested; and

        ‘(B) consists of not more than $500 per well, unless the Administrator determines that 1 or more wells to be tested warrant the provision of a greater amount.

      ‘(2) COST SHARING-

        ‘(A) IN GENERAL- The Federal share of the cost of any test described in paragraph (1) shall not exceed 80 percent.

        ‘(B) NON-FEDERAL SHARE- The non-Federal share of the cost of any test described in paragraph (1) may be provided in cash or in kind.

    ‘(g) NUMBER AND FREQUENCY OF TESTS-

      ‘(1) IN GENERAL- Subject to paragraph (2), in determining the number and frequency of tests to be conducted under this section with respect to any private well in an area of concern, a State shall take into consideration--

        ‘(A) typical and potential seasonal variations in groundwater levels; and

        ‘(B) resulting fluctuations in contamination levels.

      ‘(2) LIMITATION- Except in a case in which at least 2 years have elapsed since the last date on which a private well was tested using funds provided under this section, no funds provided under this section may be used to test any private well--

        ‘(A) more than 4 times; or

        ‘(B) on or after the date that is 1 year after the date on which the well is first tested.

    ‘(h) OTHER ASSISTANCE- Assistance provided to test private wells under this section shall be in addition to any assistance provided for a similar purpose under this Act or any other Federal law.

    ‘(i) REPORT- Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator, in cooperation with the National Ground Water Association, shall submit to Congress a report that describes the progress made in carrying out this section.

    ‘(j) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS-

      ‘(1) IN GENERAL- There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2003 through 2006, to remain available until expended.

      ‘(2) MINIMUM ALLOCATION- The Administrator shall ensure that, for each fiscal year, each State receives not less than 0.25 percent of the amount made available under paragraph (1) for the fiscal year.’.