WASHINGTON — Feb. 10, 2016 — Bipartisan legislation that would strengthen public notification requirements related to lead levels in drinking water was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 416-2, according to press releases.
The Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act was championed by Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, who represents Flint, and Fred Upton, R-Michigan, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It aims to prevent another crisis like that faced in Flint, Mich., where the tap water is contaminated with lead.
The bill amends the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, requiring public water utilities to notify their customers of excessive lead levels in their drinking water. It also requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a strategic plan to improve information sharing between water utilities, state officials, the EPA and affected customers when there is too much lead in drinking water.
“I thank my colleagues in Congress for taking swift action on this bill to start addressing the Flint water crisis,” Kildee said in the release. “This bill simply states that when there are unacceptable levels of lead in people’s drinking water, the public should be immediately told about it. This bill in itself wouldn’t have prevented the crisis in my hometown, but it is a necessary first step to ensure that such an emergency doesn’t happen again.”
Kildee also reiterated his call for Congress to consider additional legislation he has introduced that focuses on immediate and long-term investments for Flint, including infrastructure repairs, wrap-around services for families and children exposed to lead, economic development support for the city and long-term health monitoring for Flint families.
“I applaud today’s action but hope it is only a first step in addressing this crisis,” he continued in the release. “While it’s clear that the state created this man-made crisis, the federal government has in its capacity to help. Congress must act without delay to help Flint families get the immediate and long-term resources they need to recover.”