Monday Morning Briefing

Monday Morning Briefing

Senate Bill Aims to Boost Emerging Contaminant Research

New legislation expected to be introduced in the Senate this week will seek to improve federal interagency coordination and research into the human health effects of emerging contaminants in drinking water.  The bill, to be sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), was written with input from AMWA and other water sector associations.

The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act would not impose any new screening requirements for emerging contaminants on water systems or states, nor would it establish any new regulatory mandates.  Instead the bill would:

  • Direct EPA to review current federal efforts to monitor and develop treatment methods for emerging contaminants.  EPA would be required to work with states, water utilities and other stakeholders to develop a strategic plan for improving these ongoing federal activities.
  • Establish an interagency working group led by EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services and tasked with improving federal efforts to identify and respond to emerging contaminants.
  • Create a National Emerging Contaminant Research Initiative to improve the identification, analysis and treatment methods for emerging contaminants.
  • Direct EPA to develop an assistance program to aid states that are in need of improved testing facilities to enable adequate screening of emerging contaminants in drinking water samples.  EPA could request up to $15 million per year to support this assistance program.

The legislation “bolsters cooperation between the EPA and local communities and also makes agency resources more easily accessible” to help states and localities respond to emerging contaminants, Sen. Shaheen said in a statement.

AMWA worked with Sen. Shaheen’s staff during development of the bill to streamline the legislation’s definition of “emerging contaminants” and to ensure the proposal would not create new regulatory mandates on water systems.