Enviros Urge EPA Not To Weaken Drinking Water Reports

October 31, 2012

Fifteen environmental and public health groups have urged EPA not to weaken requirements for local utilities to disclose contamination of public drinking water.

The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to put "Consumer Confidence Reports" (CCRs) in water customers' bill mailings once a year — reporting any contaminants that exceed EPA standards and any other violations of EPA rules. Some utilities have complained that the paper reports are too expensive to produce, and are asking for requirements to be relaxed. One way to relax the requirement would be to let the CCRs be published online only. Environmental groups have objected that people without online computers would be deprived of the information.

The groups actually supported the requirement to put the CCRs online, but said EPA needed to strengthen that requirement. They also urged EPA to send postal mail copies of the CCR to customers without email addresses on file.

The environmental groups complained that EPA had not allowed sufficient time for the public to review possible weakening of the disclosure rules, and that EPA had only put relevant information into its docket at the last minute. They argued that EPA had emphasized easing a "burden" utilities had lived with for years at the expense of protecting the public.

The 15 groups were: the Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, Clean Water Network, Communications Workers of America, Edgemont Neighborhood Coalition of Dayton, Food & Water Watch, Midwest Environmental Advocates, National Consumer Law Center, National Lawyers Guild Environmental Justice Committee, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, OMB Watch, OpenTheGovernment.org, Sierra Club Environmental Justice & Community Partnerships Program, Union of Concerned Scientists.