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Drinking water lead control act moves in subcommittee.

Despite expressions of significant concern about the provisions of H.R. 2840, a measure which woudl substantially tighten current EPA regulations controling lead in drinking water, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment (Henry Waxman, D-Calif. Chrmn.) unanimously approved the portions fo the measure addressing lead contamination in public drinking water supplies.

The subcommittee also unanimously approved an amendment proposed by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) which:

[section] authorizes sampling for testing residential tap water (this amendment does not change the requirement for implementation of corrosion control if 1% of the sample exceeds the 10 ppb level, it merely increases the number of homes that can be sampled);

[section] extends the deadline for replacement of lead services lines by one year if, after implementation of corrosion control, lead concentrations do not exceed 15 parts per billion (ppb) in more than 10 percent of the samples. Water suppliers would have an additional year to adjust their corrosion control program to meet the 10 ppb level;

[section] treats service lines meeting a 5 ppb level (from a sample taken from the line) as non-contributors to lead contamination;

[section] eliminates the requirement to install Best Available Technology (BAT) for many contaminants regardless of technological and economical feasibility;

[section] extends the deadline for implementation of corrosion control to one year after state review and approval of local corrosion control strategy;

[section] requires priority replacement of lead service lines believed to be causing the most significant lead contamination problems;

[section] permits averaging of two samples, collected within 30 days of each other, where the first sample exceeded 10 ppb;

[section] authorizes $50 million per year for five years of grant to states and public water suppliers based on the "severity of the lead in drinking water supplied and other factors."

Subcommittee members indicated their intent to revise the measure further when it is taken up in full committee (John Dingell, D-MI, Chrmn.).

Waxman, principal sponsor of H.R. 2840, contends that EPA's drinking water regulations (issued in June of this year) are inadequate to protect Americans--most especially children, and do not force public water systems to implement lead reduction strategies or remove lead service lines expeditiously.

Under H.R. 8240, cities and towns would be required to implement corrosion control if any home tested for lead in drinking water exceeded a 10 ppb limit. The regulations require corrosion control if 10 10 percent of the homes sampled exceed a 15 ppb level.

If, after corrosion control has been implemented, a single tested home exceeds the 10 ppb leve, Waxman's proposal would have required municipal drinking water suppliers to remove lead service lines unless it could be documented that the lines do not contribute to the exceedance. In addition, his bill would mandate lead service line replacement in a far shorter time frame than provided in regulation.

In part, the argument is over whether municipal drinking water systems should be held responsible for lead contamination from equipment (brass plumbing fixtures, in-home pipes and/or solder, service lines connecting homes to the municipal distribution system, etc.) in private residences. Or, as Rep. J. Roy Rowland (D-GA.), the only physician on the committee said, "the debate is over how to accomplish the objectives [of eliminating lead in drinking water], not the objectives themselves."
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Title Annotation:includes related article on housing provisions; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment
Author:Kocheisen, Carol; Barreto, Julio
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 4, 1991
Previous Article:Term limits: where will the steamroller stop?
Next Article:Banking legislation in the House.

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