July 11, 2018

Duckworth, Durbin Join Markey and 9 Colleagues in Introducing Bill to Help Small and Disadvantaged Communities Improve the Safety of their Drinking Water


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and 9 other senators this week to reintroduce the Contaminant and Lead Electronic Accounting and Reporting Requirements (CLEARR) for Drinking Water Act. This legislation will 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. 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.

"When families send their children to school or turn on their faucet at home, they should not have to worry about their drinking water being contaminated with a dangerous neurotoxin like lead," Duckworth said. "The reality is that contaminated water is a public health crisis in communities across the nation and no state is immune. The CLEARR Act is an important bill that can help solve this crisis and ensure every family in America - no matter where they live - has access to clean and safe drinking water."

“Every single community – no matter how big, small, wealthy, or poor – should have access to clean and safe drinking water. That’s as basic as it gets,” Durbin said. “Sadly, many areas lack the ability to test drinking water and make the necessary improvements if they are warranted. This bill would seek to provide assistance to communities in need by increasing federal funding for water infrastructure improvements and quality water monitoring in America’s towns."

In addition to Duckworth, Durbin and Markey, cosponsors of the CLEARR Drinking Water Act include Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Full text of the legislation can be found here.

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

   • 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