Two U.S. Senators have introduced an act that would provide grants for water testing and treatment technology directly to individuals and non-profits in rural communities, according to a press release from the office of Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
Named the Healthy Drinking Water Affordability Act, the legislation was introduced by Senators Baldwin and Susan Collins (R-ME).
“Regardless of where you live, every Wisconsinite deserves access to clean drinking water and an environment free of toxic chemicals. Across our state, many rural and smaller communities are struggling to identify, treat, and get rid of emerging chemicals that endanger our health, especially that of our children,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am excited to partner with my Republican colleague to introduce legislation that will cut costs and expand access to water testing and treatment for families in rural communities so that when they turn on the faucet, they can be confident our drinking water is safe.”
Currently, nearly 43 million households, primarily in rural communities, rely exclusively on groundwater delivered through private wells for their drinking water. These sources are not subject to the same oversight and testing for contamination of public water sources. Water quality improvement systems installed at the faucet or within a building can provide immediate and ongoing protection from known and emerging water contaminants, like PFAS, lead and nitrates.
“Maintaining and upgrading water and wastewater systems is vital to ensuring the economic and environmental health of our communities,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan legislation will help reduce health-based contaminants like PFAS in drinking water, increase consumer confidence, and protect public health.”
The Healthy Drinking Water Affordability Act would provide grants for water quality testing and the purchase and installation of point-of-use or point-of-entry water quality improvement systems that remove or significantly reduce contaminants from drinking water.
Grants would be provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture directly to individuals and to non-profits in rural areas, specifically to those in communities with a population under 10,000, to help people test their water and install a water treatment product if needed.
While public water systems have access to federal infrastructure assistance through EPA’s Drinking and Clean Water State Revolving Funds, the Healthy Drinking Water Affordability Act would provide solutions to those accessing water through private wells that are not subject to the same drinking water standards and do not have access to the EPA funding.
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Angus King (I-ME).
“We applaud Senators Baldwin and Collins for introducing The Healthy H2O Act, which will increase access to water treatment technology for rural communities, an area overlooked in recent federal investments,” said Pauli Undesser, MWS, executive director for the Water Quality Association (WQA). “Consulting qualified professionals and utilizing certified point-of-use and point-of-entry filtration systems can play a crucial role for those who rely on private wells and are uncertain about how to treat emerging health contaminants.”