Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bond Trying to Drain Drinking Water Rules

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bond Trying to Drain Drinking Water Rules

Article excerpt

When Congress moves to the topic of safe drinking water, Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., wants a new law enacted with fewer requirements on local governments to test for contamination.

Bond, co-chairman of the Senate Regulatory Relief Task Force, argued on Monday that the nation's Safe Drinking Water Act had grown too costly for cities and towns to enforce.

The law, Bond said, has become "a symbol of the growing frustration over prescriptive, often arbitrary federal regulations imposed on communities without sufficient funds to finance them."

In a letter to Sen. John H. Chafee, R-R.I., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Bond and nine of the 15 members of his task force spelled out requirements they want in a new drinking water law:

More analyses of costs of regulations and their public health benefits.

New and less rigorous schedules for monitoring water.

An end to testing deemed unnecessary and more time to comply with federal rules.

Bond urged "bold reforms" in the drinking water law while Republicans have the opportunity. He observed in the letter to Chafee that his regulatory task force had identified drinking water rules among the 10 most excessive sets of regulations in the country.

Many of the nation's environmental laws could be weakened if Congress succeeds this year in a broad effort to trim the frequency and the reach of federal regulations. In addition, Congress plans to redraw a handful of specific laws, the first being the 21-year-old Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Democratic-held Senate and the House each passed bills last year that would have softened the burdens on local governments to monitor for contaminants. Senate and House leaders never reached agreement on precisely what to do, so federal drinking water regulations remain the same.

Local officials complain especially about water monitoring costs under an Environmental Protection Agency schedule that requires checking for 25 contaminants every three years beyond those contaminants sought in regular checks. …

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