Brown Co-Sponsors Bill To Warn Communities Sooner About Tainted Drinking Water
Recent lead contamination in water systems in Sebring, Ohio and Flint, Michigan, are prompting Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio to co-sponsor legislation aimed at alerting communities faster when their water supply is contaminated. Brian Bull of member station WCPN in Cleveland reports.
Brown says he’s not only been alarmed by the unsafe water cases affecting families in Flint and Sebring, he’s troubled by the time government officials took to alert their constituents about the threat.
In the case of Sebring, Brown says Ohio EPA and Sebring water system administrators knew of high lead levels in some homes’ water back in August 2015, but most residents didn’t learn of the issue until the Ohio EPA forced the notification five months later.
Brown says he’s the primary sponsor of a bill being written with Michigan Senators
Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, that’ll expedite warnings.
“Families in Sebring – like in Flint – were left in the dark about the
presence of lead in their water. Our bill would require the federal EPA to notify
the public directly if there’s a danger of lead in the water system, and if the
state has failed to do so within a much shorter period of time…15 days. No more
arguing about whose responsibility it is, while families continue drinking water
that we know is not safe, no more finger pointing after the fact.”
The bill also requires affected communities to have an action plan within six
months, instead of 18 months, to address lead issues. It also calls for clean, safe
water to be accessible to people in the meantime. And it requires the EPA to post
online annual water quality reports for every state.
Brown says he’ll introduce the bill sometime this week.