Senate Continues Work to Iron out Differences in Drinking Water Plans
Kocheisen, Carol, Nation's Cities Weekly
This is the last of a three part series explaining major issues of interest and concern to cities and towns in amending the Safe Drinking Water Act. This final segment compares current law provisions on viability and the proposed new drinking water State Revolving Loan Fund with those in the Baucus (S. 1547) and the Domenici-Boren (S. 1920) amendments.
by Carol Kocheisen
Senate floor action on amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act is scheduled for this week. Coalition representatives, along with Sen. Domenici's staff, have been meeting regularly over the past several weeks with the Environment and Public Works Committee to negotiate amendments bringing the Baucus bill closer to the objectives of state and local governments. No agreements have yet been finalized.
The "viability" provisions in the Baucus bill are designed to assure that all public drinking water systems--regardless of size--are fully capable of providing drinking water that meets federal standards and requirements. Systems that are and are unlikely to meet federal standards and requirements would be mandated to restructure to assure compliance or to consolidate their operations with systems that have adequate compliance capacity.
Maintaining primacy, the system under which individual states administer the drinking water program within their boundaries, will be conditioned upon state compliance with the viability requirements.
EPA would be required to establish minimum criteria for a state viability program. These minimum criteria will require the states to demonstrate they have legal authority to:
* insure that all new public drinking water system have both the technical and financial capacity to comply fully with current and future Safe Drinking Water Act requirements; and
* order restructuring or consolidation of system in violation of current law requirements. EPA is authorized to develop other additional minimum viabiity program requirements.
States would be required w submit their viabiity program to EPA for approval
Neither current law, nor the Domenici/Boren bill, include such requirements. The National Governors' Association has raised significant property rights and "takings" concerns with the Baucus provision and believes the requirement could seriously jeopardize primacy in some states.
Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (DWSRF)
Last year, the Clinton Administration proposed to establish a five-year $5. …