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Contact members of Congress to preserve “local choice” of chemicals and water treatment methods
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is drafting a chemical facility security bill that will give federal regulators in Washington the ultimate decision-making authority over what chemicals and treatment processes a drinking water utility may use. The AWWA strongly believes such authority must remain in local hands. If you agree with AWWA, the association would like you to please contact your member of Congress immediately and urge him/her to oppose any bill that does not respect this fundamental local decision. (Note that many members of Congress will be in their home districts during the Easter/Passover recess April 6-17.)
The committee is taking this action in conjunction with congressional efforts to rewrite the overall federal security program for chemical facilities. Drinking water utilities are currently exempt from this program, but are going to be included in the revised program. The bill being drafted would have a utility evaluate its chemical usage, practices and processes involving hazardous chemicals (such as gaseous chlorine), and would require facilities considered to be “high risk” to lower their risk through steps such as changing chemical treatment processes or maintaining lower quantities of chemicals on site. A utility can apply for an exemption from this requirement under certain criteria to be spelled out in the bill, but the final decision will rest with the U.S. EPA in Washington D.C. There is no plan in this program for states to assume primacy and administer the program.
AWWA members are urged to call, fax or e-mail their members of Congress immediately to say that water treatment choices must be made locally. Furthermore, your member of Congress should understand that serious unintended public health consequences can result if homeland security concerns are made paramount to protecting public health. Please urge your member of Congress to oppose the bill if it does not leave the ultimate decision concerning chemical use with local officials. A draft letter is attached.
You can find contact information for members of the House of Representatives at www.house.gov, or you can contact Tommy Holmes in the AWWA Government Affairs Office at (202) 326-6128 or at [email protected].
The members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are: Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.).