07.11.18

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Helps Introduce Legislation to Improve the Safety of Drinking Water in Small and Disadvantaged Communities

CLEARR Drinking Water Act would authorize more than $1 billion to improve water infrastructure for the 21st century

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and 11 other Senators, led by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), reintroduced the Contaminant and Lead Electronic Accounting and Reporting Requirements (CLEARR) for Drinking Water Act to authorize more than $1 billion in federal funding to help small and disadvantaged communities replace contaminated water infrastructure to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements. This competitive grant program was created by the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2016, which Senator Baldwin supported.  

The CLEARR Drinking Water Act also directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish requirements for electronic reporting of water quality testing results, update the requirements for repeat- or serious-offender water systems, and create a system so that residents can request in-home water quality tests from the EPA and receive the test results in an expedited manner.

“Safe drinking water is a priority for every community and is essential to the economic health of Wisconsin’s communities,” said Senator Baldwin. “Too often though, small and underserved communities lack the resources to solve our most pressing water challenges, including lead and other contaminants. That’s why I’m working to make sure that every community across Wisconsin has access to clean drinking water, and safe and reliable water infrastructure.”

The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The CLEARR Drinking Water Act would:

  • Increase the authorized funding levels for the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities program from $60 million per year through FY2021 to $230 million for FY2019 and $300 million each year for FY2020 – FY2023;
  • Develop a system for expedited water quality testing, create an electronic database of public health test results that could help monitors identify health threats sooner, and educate the public about the potential effects of drinking water contaminants and the assistance that the EPA can provide to ensure safe drinking water;
  • Provide advice and technical assistance to a state and public water system to help bring those systems into compliance with drinking water regulation;
  • Establish requirements for the electronic reporting of water system compliance data; and
  • Require the head of the state agency that has primary enforcement responsibility for drinking water to notify the EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and appropriate state and county health agencies when a drinking water violation has the potential to have serious adverse effects on human health.

A copy of the legislation can be found here.