Only six days after it was introduced, the Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act, H.R. 4470, passed the House by an almost unanimous vote of 416–2. The two votes against were cast by Representatives Todd Rokita (IN-4) and Thomas Massie (KY-4).
H.R. 4470 would require public water service operators to appropriately
notify all customers if more than ten percent of customers have more
than 15 parts per billion of lead their water. The bill would also
require the EPA to develop a strategy for outreach to people affected by
lead in their water, and to inform water operators and states if a
water system in their control contains excessive amounts of lead.
The Flint Crisis
bill is a response to the water safety issues of Flint, Michigan, where
on March 3, 2015, one household was determined to have 397 parts per
billion of lead in their drinking water. According to the New York Times,
tests of Flint water from January to June showed levels of only 11
parts per billion for the city as a whole. Yet a group of doctors found
high levels of lead in the blood of Flint children. On January 16, 2016,
President Obama declared a state of emergency for the area to allow for
$5 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency aid.
Bill sponsor Rep. Dan Kildee (MI5) issued this press release about H.R. 4470.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 10, 2016.
Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act
(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to require public water systems to notify their customers when a lead action level under national drinking water regulations is exceeded in more than 10% of customer taps sampled. (An action level is a level of contaminates which triggers a requirement for the public water system to take additional actions to control corrosion.) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must notify customers if the state or the public water system fails to notify the public within 24 hours of receiving notice from the EPA.
Community water systems' consumer confidence reports must include: (1) a definition of "action level," and (2) the action level for contaminants detected in water provided by the public water system.
The EPA must establish a strategic plan for conducting targeted outreach, education, technical assistance, and risk communication to populations affected by lead in the public water system.
EPA employees must forward to the public water system and to the state information indicating that drinking water contains lead that exceeds a lead action level. The public water system must then disseminate this information to its customers along with its potential adverse effects on human health, corrective steps underway, and advice on whether customers should seek alternative water supplies. If the public water system or the state fails to disseminate the information, the EPA must disseminate it as soon as reasonably possible.
(Sec. 3) The EPA must: (1) make information about lead in drinking water available to the public, and (2) carry out targeted outreach strategies that focus on educating groups that are at greater risk than the general population for adverse health effects from exposure to lead in drinking water.