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Policy Library

Protect People From Dangerous Drinking Water

Millions of people across thousands of communities in the U.S. have chemicals in their drinking water that put them at risk. PFOA and PFOS and related compounds linked to cancer, Chromium-6 (the Erin Brockovich chemical) and 1,4 dioxane are in millions of people’s tap water. The Safe Drinking Water Act will limit these known toxins in drinking water, protecting families, homes, schools and businesses from harmful toxins.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

New Jersey, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont

Introduced in:

New York (123), Michigan

In The News

“For Hickey, this saga began after his father died from kidney cancer in 2013. ‘I'm not a big environmentalist,' he says. 'I'm just an everyday guy that came across a chemical that I felt the need to follow through on for my father and my son.’”
“'Five years after Beaver Falls Municipal Authority—a water utility that serves 50,000 Pennsylvanians—discovered elevated levels of a likely human carcinogen, the utility has not taken steps to address the problem, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review of water records shows . . . . The utility has not tested for dioxane since [2014].'”
“'Chromium-6, the cancer-causing chemical best known for its role in the Erin Brockovich story, has been found at higher-than-recommended levels in the tap water supplying two-thirds of all Americans.'”
“Despite Michigan's widely praised effort to find PFAS contamination, state leaders have moved slowly toward setting a drinking water standard to regulate the persistent, toxic and pervasive 'forever chemicals.' This failure to act swiftly comes despite data showing that nearly 1.9 million people have been drinking some level of PFAS chemicals — and statewide testing isn't even done yet.”

Partners

  • Parents and Families
  • Environmental advocates
  • Clean water advocates

Opposition

  • Industrial polluters
  • Private water system operators
Call us for real-time support using this library, problem-solving tips, and follow-up from our team of national experts:
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FAQ

How does this help protect drinking water?
These proposals direct existing regulatory agencies to set state-level standards for drinking water to ensure states are doing everything they can to protect residents from known toxins. At least six states have already taken state-level action and are leading the way in protecting their residents from these chemicals.
Is this high-cost to the state?
There is no cost to the state from these initiatives. These proposals direct existing regulatory agencies to set state-level standards for drinking water.
Will this drive economic growth in my state?
Because of liability concerns, companies are shifting away from using toxic chemicals that poison water systems and innovative new companies are being created to help solve the problem. States that lead the way in protecting their drinking water can attract new businesses while reducing healthcare costs and protecting their citizens.
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Model Policy

SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the Safe Drinking Water Act..

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
This bill directs the Department of Health to establish state-level maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for likely carcinogens found in public drinking water systems. The bill also directs the Department to consider guidance on limits to a contaminant in public drinking water when two or more other states have set maximum contaminant levels or limits on said pollutant(s).

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) It is the goal of STATE to protect residents from harmful toxins in drinking water.

(b) Accordingly, within 100 days the Department is directed to produce and post publicly a plan to establish and enforce maximum levels of likely known carcinogens in public drinking water.

(c) The plan shall include (1) the establishment of state-wide maximum contaminant levels for PFOS, PFOA, and other PFAS compounds in public drinking water systems in accordance with evidence-based standards; (2) the establishment of state-wide maximum contaminant levels for chromium-6 in public drinking water systems in accordance with evidence-based standards; (3) the establishment of state-wide maximum contaminant levels for 1,4 dioxane in public drinking water systems in accordance with evidence-based standards; (4) a Department directive to consider limits on other pollutants in public drinking water systems when two or more other states have set limits or issued guidance on a given pollutant(s).

(d) For aspects of the plan that would require additional action by the legislature, the Department shall include in the plan specific requests and outlines of legislative action needed, including budget requests.

(e) Definitions
  • (i) “MCL” as defined in this section means maximum contaminant level, or the legal threshold limit on the amount of a substance that is allowed in public water systems.