Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged Congress to pass the Contaminant and Lead Electronic Accounting and Reporting Requirements (CLEARR) for Drinking Water Act, which would help small and disadvantaged communities across New York State clean up water contamination in their local water systems. Some small and economically disadvantaged communities across New York have been exposed to dangerous levels of water pollution, but don’t have the resources they need to clean up their water. The CLEARR Drinking Water Act would increase funding for disadvantaged communities to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements, help communities identify at-risk drinking water systems, and modernize the testing of public water systems. It would also require more transparency from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about water pollution in New York.
“Every New Yorker should have access to clean water, but we’ve seen too many cases where drinking water contamination has hurt our communities and caused families to worry about their health,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “The CLEARR Drinking Water Act would give communities the resources they need to clean up water pollution. New Yorkers have a right to know what is in their drinking water and whether it’s safe to drink, and I urge my colleagues to pass this important legislation now.”
The CLEARR Drinking Water Act would increase the amount of funding provided by the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities program from $60 million per year through Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to $230 million for FY 2019 and $300 million each year for FY 2020 – FY 2023. The Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities program helps small and disadvantaged communities comply with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements. The legislation would also provide funding for in-home water quality tests.
In addition, the CLEARR Drinking Water Act would help modernize the testing of public water systems by requiring the EPA to establish new electronic reporting of water system compliance data, helping to provide communities with a real-time look at water quality. It would also create new transparency requirements from the EPA about water pollution in order to help New York communities identify and report at-risk drinking water systems.
Specifically, the CLEARR Drinking Water Act would require the EPA to do the following:
- Provide advice and technical assistance to state and public water systems to help bring those systems into compliance with drinking water regulations;
- Perform research on drinking water contaminants, serious public health crises, and the possible health effects that contaminants have on the health of residents;
- Develop a database of public health test results that could be relevant to drinking water quality, including test results of elevated blood lead and other contaminant levels from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and
Provide grants to community organizations to educate residents on the potential health effects of drinking water contaminants and the assistance that the EPA can provide to ensure safe drinking water.