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house Bill H.R. 4470

Do the EPA, States, and Water Utilities Need to Notify the Public About Lead Levels in Drinking Water?

Argument in favor

This bill sets clear standards for when water utilities, states, and the EPA are responsible for notifying the public about lead contamination in drinking water to keep consumers informed and healthy.

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02/12/2016
"Because of the conduct of Gov. Snyder’s administration and his refusal to take responsibility, families will suffer from lead poisoning for the rest of their lives. Children in Flint will be plagued with brain damage and other health problems. The people of Flint deserve more than an apology.” [berniesanders.com]
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BarackObama's Opinion
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02/12/2016
“Our children should not have to be worried about the water that they’re drinking in American cities. That’s not something that we should accept.” [detroitnews.com]
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jjennetta8's Opinion
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02/08/2016
Incredibly, this bill has not been on the books for years. Had it been the case, the debacle in Flint, Michigan may have been avoided or at least minimized. Consumers deserve to know what is in their water, especially if there are contaminants harmful to human health and development. This bill should clearly pass and sadly hasn't already.
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Argument opposed

Coordination between state regulators, the EPA, and drinking water utilities is sufficient. The public is already alerted about unsafe lead levels in drinking water. This bill isn't needed to protect consumers.

StratonGarrard's Opinion
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02/09/2016
I already receive water reports, and state agencies also already alert cities if they have unsafe levels of lead. Wouldn't it be better if Congress reduced redundancies so that we can reduce spending on unnecessary bureaucracy? Vote no if inefficient governments give you a headache.
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Cathy's Opinion
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02/08/2016
We don't need more government regulations and we certainly don't need the EPA.
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Thomas's Opinion
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02/10/2016
This is an underhanded way to blame the EPA for Flint. We already get water reports.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Environment and Public Works
  • The house Passed February 10th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 416 Yea / 2 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
    IntroducedFebruary 4th, 2016

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What is House Bill H.R. 4470?

This bill would ensure that the public is informed of excessive lead levels in drinking water by establishing requirements for when states, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and drinking water utilities must communicate their findings.

A public notification would be required whenever the enforceable requirements for lead in drinking water are exceeded. Public water systems must notify consumers if the lead action level is exceeded in their drinking water system.

If a lead action level is exceeded for the 90th percentile of a public water system’s customers and has significant potential for adverse health effects, EPA must quickly notify the public if the state or local drinking water system fails to do so.

The EPA would be required to create a strategic plan for handling and improving the flow of information between drinking water utilities, the states, EPA, and affected drinking water consumers when the enforceable limit for lead in drinking water has been exceeded.

Consumer notifications would be required whenever water is being transported in a lead pipe that is corroded enough that lead could leach into public drinking water.

Impact

Members of the public in areas with certain levels of lead in the drinking water, drinking water utilities, states, and the EPA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4470

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) introduced this bill to ensure that the public is notified that concentrations of lead in drinking water have exceeded federal requirements:

“When there are unacceptable levels of lead in people’s drinking water, they should immediately be told about it. This legislation, supported by Democrats and Republicans, strengthens notification requirements for the public and changes federal law to ensure that people are notified quickly when there are dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water. This is the latest action I’m taking in Congress to promote accountability and help Flint recover from this terrible man-made tragedy.”

Cosponsoring Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) praised this legislation for putting in place standards that “will ensure consumers are not kept in the dark” while forcing the EPA to fulfill “their fundamental duty to warn the public of high lead levels.”

This bill currently has 16 cosponsors in the House, including eight Republicans and seven Democrats.


Of Note: The Flint water crisis began in April 2014 when it was discovered that the city’s water source, the Flint River, was corroding the lead pipes carrying the water, which in turn caused lead to leach into the drinking water supply. Between 6,000 and 12,000 children in Flint were exposed for some period of time to lead in their drinking water, and as a result United Way has embarked on a campaign to raise $100 million for them over a 10-15 year period.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: By National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from USA - Lead testing, Public Domain)

AKA

Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act

Official Title

To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act with respect to the requirements related to lead in drinking water, and for other purposes.

    "Because of the conduct of Gov. Snyder’s administration and his refusal to take responsibility, families will suffer from lead poisoning for the rest of their lives. Children in Flint will be plagued with brain damage and other health problems. The people of Flint deserve more than an apology.” [berniesanders.com]
    Like (335)
    Follow
    Share
    I already receive water reports, and state agencies also already alert cities if they have unsafe levels of lead. Wouldn't it be better if Congress reduced redundancies so that we can reduce spending on unnecessary bureaucracy? Vote no if inefficient governments give you a headache.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    “Our children should not have to be worried about the water that they’re drinking in American cities. That’s not something that we should accept.” [detroitnews.com]
    Like (134)
    Follow
    Share
    Incredibly, this bill has not been on the books for years. Had it been the case, the debacle in Flint, Michigan may have been avoided or at least minimized. Consumers deserve to know what is in their water, especially if there are contaminants harmful to human health and development. This bill should clearly pass and sadly hasn't already.
    Like (43)
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    Share
    It seems a natural right that people should be given knowledge - when available - about what they're consuming.
    Like (20)
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    This is a no brainer, we must keep people informed about any potential health risks.
    Like (16)
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    Those nays are claiming we already receive water reports. Yes, once a year, but if levels of anything adverse rise to a dangerous level, we have the right to know immediately, not in a year after untold damage can occur, like has just happened. Nays should be forced to drink the Flint MI water until their next annual water report! Idiots.
    Like (16)
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    We don't need more government regulations and we certainly don't need the EPA.
    Like (9)
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    This is an underhanded way to blame the EPA for Flint. We already get water reports.
    Like (8)
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    Prime example of what's wrong with government. We know the communications between fed and state suck. I want to make sure the GOP or anyone not to attach any riders on this and get it passed!
    Like (6)
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    Should we have the right to know if we're being poisoned?
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    The EPA has shown recently that it is not a functioning agency. After the mining disaster EPA can not be trusted to tell the truth and it's past history has shown that it is better at harassing home owner and small businesses than it is at being effective. EPA has become a political punishment agency and not an environment protection agency. Time this agency is dissolved or it policies and rules stripped from the books.
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    This is proof that the government can't do anything right, anything at all. As it stands, yes, there should be more investigation into the quality of water. Yet, to trust a monopoly such as the government to amend its failure is foolish. The free market is the only feasible path to assure such ill repute never happens again.
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    We must secure the safety of the citizens.
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    The state of water systems in this country is another indication of lack of infrastructure spending
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    I think we should absolutely know everything that we consume as it is a natural born right to know what is going into our bodies.
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    Why is this an argument? If the public is paying for a service then they should know what they are paying for.
    Like (3)
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    I am baffled that this is even a question.
    Like (3)
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    I believe the EPA should be abolished, as states can do the same things. However, lead is a terribly dangerous thing. Living in a first-world country, we should not have to worry about contaminated drinking water.
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    Everyone has the right to be notified so they can stop drinking contaminated water.
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