By Kathleen Fultz
With water contamination concerns headlining the news across the country, Water Quality Association (WQA) members visited Congressional offices in April as a part of WQA’s Fly-In Day. Before hitting the Hill, recognizing the importance of working with those who share common interests, participants heard from representatives of the Water Systems Council (WSC), National Ground Water Association (NGWA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Water Program.
Occasions like this help the association increasingly develop and strengthen relationships with governmental and non-governmental bodies, as well as address regulatory and legislative opportunities/challenges. On Capitol Hill, WQA members urged Congress to provide drought relief in western states; support feasible treatment for lead in drinking water and support the Safe, Affordable, Viable, and Efficient Water Supply (Savings) Act.
Drought conditions can result in a higher concentration of contaminants in water, such as arsenic and nitrates. Communities throughout the state of California are impacted by the presence of naturally occurring arsenic (among other contaminants) in groundwater. SB 2533, sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), gives assistance to drought-stricken communities in the western states and supports small water systems that implement projects to use POU or POE water treatment technologies to meet the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Lead in drinking water
Learning from Flint, Michigan, SB 2535, sponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), takes into account that after the public receives notification their water is contaminated, there should be available resources to answer the question: Now what do we do? The legislation includes provisions requiring US EPA to notify the public within 15 days if there is an exceedance of a lead action level found in the monitoring activity conducted by the public water system, if the public water system or the state fail to do so first. It also requires the state having primary enforcement to provide a short-term remedy for lead (including bottled water or a water filtration system) to each affected household no later than seven days after the public notice is released.
The Safe, Affordable, Viable and Efficient Water Supply Act
The Savings Act (HB 1160), sponsored by Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), encourages the federal, state and local levels to consider providing safe drinking water to the millions of people living in rural or secluded areas by creating well water systems. This can lessen the cost burden of developing long-pipe, centralized water systems. The legislation will also assist governments and not-for-profit organizations with information and technical assistance to apply for federal drinking water grants/loans.
Fly-in events continue the conversation on viable solutions to drinking water concerns and contribute momentum to improve water quality and enhance the quality of life through sustainable technologies and services. Having a continued presence in Washington, DC establishes WQA as a recognized resource among legislators for the betterment of drinking water quality.
Photo courtesy of WQA. Left to right, front: Ken Gibson, Pauli Undesser, Don McGhee, Jeff Hill, Amy Hill, David Loveday, Bill Siegmund. Second row: Sam Baron, Mike Heatwole, Larry Casey, Steve Ver Strat, David Westman, Bill Jefferis, Kathleen Fultz, Doug Workman. Back two rows: Gino Lucchese, Richard Mest, Bob Kappel, Bret Tangley, Scott Batiste, Tom Blank, Ken Steitz, Jeremy Pollack, Ron Yoder, Shannon Murphy, Mike Mitchell
About the author
Kathleen Fultz is the Regulatory and Government Affairs Coordinator for the Water Quality Association, located in Lisle, IL. She works on regulatory and government relations activities for the association and oversees the Regulatory Info Search database on WQA’s website. Prior to this position, Fultz interned with WQA and focused on gathering regulatory resources to build a regulatory database for members. The database now contains over 1,200 summaries and links to regulations, codes and laws from the local, state and federal levels of government in the US and Canada.