EPA Allows Drinking Water Reports Online — But Can Consumers Hack It?
EPA bowed to industry and some in Congress by ruling January 3, 2013, that local drinking water utilities did not have to notify their customers of contamination in writing, but could instead do so online.
That provision had been promoted in Congress — and had failed — during 2012. It had been sought by many in the the water utility industry, who claimed it would cut their costs. But consumer groups had opposed it. EPA essentially adopted the language that had failed to pass Congress by modifying its rules in a January 3, 2013, memo.
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requires utilities annually to publish "Consumer Confidence Reports" (
Consumer watchdog groups like the Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) have complained that allowing utilities to put the CCRs online would probably reduce public access to the information — since some percentage of US households do not have the internet.
"The memo fails to set clear standards for electronic notification and delivery and makes it likely that segments of the public will have less access to these reports," the Center for Effective Government wrote in response to the EPA memo.
- "Water Quality Reports Go Online But Access for Many Likely To Decline," The Fine Print blog, Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch), January 10, 2013, by Sofia Plagakis.
- "Memorandum: Safe Drinking Water Act — Consumer Confidence Report Rule Delivery Options," US Environmental Protection Agency, January 3, 2013, by Peter Grevatt.
- Previous Stories: WatchDogs of August 8, 2012 and October 3, 2012.