Payne, Jr. Votes to Prevent Another Flint Water Crisis

Feb 10, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) voted with a bipartisan majority to pass H.R. 4470, the Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act. The legislation ensures that the public will learn of excessive lead levels in drinking water by setting forth how and when states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and drinking water utilities must communicate their findings. Congressman Payne, Jr. is an original cosponsor of the legislation.

Current regulations do not allow the EPA to inform consumers when their water contains high levels of lead. The Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act will strengthen requirements for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to notify the public when concentrations of lead in drinking water are above federal requirements. It requires the EPA to create a strategic plan for handling and improving information flow between water utilities, the states, the EPA, and affected consumers. It also ensures consumer notification when the corrosiveness of water being transported in a lead pipe could leech into public drinking water.

“Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their children being poisoned by contaminated water,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “This common-sense legislation ensures that Americans know what is in their drinking water—an important step to preventing another Flint-like water crisis in our communities.”

In Flint, Michigan, nearly 8,000 children under age 6 may have suffered irreparable brain damage because of unsafe lead levels in the city’s water. Other communities, including those in New Jersey, are potentially at risk of similar crises because of aging water infrastructure. According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey needs $45 billion in water system upgrades in the next 20 years.