We read a LOT of articles dealing with issues that affect the quality of drinking water so it REALLY pleases us to learn that the USEPA plans to make changes to its policies that will allow it to examine more suspected drinking water contaminants faster. Additionally, it sounds as though the changes will allow for faster implementation of public policy when deemed necessary.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Monday that it would overhaul drinking water regulations so that officials could police dozens of contaminants simultaneously and tighten rules on the chemicals used by industries.
The new policies, which are still being drawn up, will probably force some local water systems to use more effective cleaning technologies, but may raise water rates. ( source )
Somebody’s Got to Pay…
Unfortunately, when it comes to cleaning up our drinking water, safer water will most likely require municipalities to invest in more sophisticated water treatment equipment. This may not go over very well with public water systems that still may not have paid off the water treatment equipment upgrades they had to install when the USEPA lowered the MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) for dissolved arsenic in drinking water from 50ppb to 10ppb a few years ago.
No matter how you slice it, the money for the upgrades will have to come from someplace. Either the customers will take the hit in the form of higher water bills or the Federal Government will have to give some municipalities grants for the upgrades — which means US taxpayers will wind up footing the bill.
Don’t We Already Have Laws on the Books?
Some folks believe we already have enough laws on the books to regulate the types of chemicals and compounds the companies may dump into the environment and feel that stricter enforcement of the existing laws will do more good than creating new laws.
That would work except for one small detail: Many of the current laws apply only to specific chemicals and not to classes or families of chemicals.
Do not fret, though, because the EPA has announced that it has plans to create better, more effective rules governing water quality contaminants AND increase enforcement of its regulations.
In some instances, laws are sufficient, but they have been ignored: More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to an analysis of federal data by The New York Times. And the other major water law — the Clean Water Act — has been violated more than half a million times, though few polluters were ever punished.
To correct such lapses, the E.P.A. intends to reform agency policies that essentially require regulators to examine pollutants one at a time. Those adjustments will allow government scientists to evaluate large groups of similar contaminants at the same time and to issue new rules that apply to dozens of chemicals.
The agency previously announced it was developing plans to crack down on polluters and force water systems to abide by cleanliness laws. ( source )
In the End…
The USEPA, like any other government body, has limitations as to what it can and cannot do to protect the quality of drinking water in the United States. Budget concerns, staffing issues, and the political agendas of persons inside and outside of the organization all play a part in the organization’s actions.
While all of us at Water Testing Blog applaud the efforts of the EPA to keep tabs the ever-growing number of pollutants entering the environment, we believe that at the end of the day responsibility for the quality of our drinking water falls on our shoulders — and that we must test our own water regularly… just in case.