City Victories Continue on Drinking Water

Article excerpt

Cities and towns continued to chalk up victories in the battle to protect the public health while reducing stringent, inflexible, and costly unfunded drinking water mandates last week.

Following a week of debate, the Senate approved S. 2019, amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act by a vote of 95 to 3 (the three were Senators Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth [both R-N.C.] and Larry Pressler [R-S.D.]).

After the vote, Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said, "This bill will continue to protect the public health, but in a rational, scientifically-proven manner. It moves us away from regulating for the sake of regulating. We are correcting the over-zealous and over-costly regulations written into this bill in 1986, thus making the law more workable and cost effective."

The Senate-passed law would allow EPA to take compliance costs and health risk reduction benefits into account when setting contaminant standards for drinking water. It also would insure that future regulation of contaminants in drinking water will reflect problems that actually occur in drinking water. States would be authorized to develop alternative and more flexible monitoring programs for municipal water systems based on the unique characteristics of activities and source water within the state or sub-state areas.

Among the more than one hundred amendments proposed during debate, the Senate approved a Johnston (D-La.) amendment on risk assessment by a vote of 90 to 8. By voice vote, the Senate approved an amendment offered by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) requiring the EPA Administrator to consider, as one of four factors, the effects of contaminants on sensitive subpopulations (infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, HIV positive individuals, etc. …