Legislation developed from an association volunteer task force
LISLE, Ill. – The Water Quality Association welcomes the bipartisan introduction of the Healthy Drinking Water Affordability Act into the 118th Congress by U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The bill, commonly known as the Healthy H20 Act, offers federal grants for water quality testing and certified treatment technology in rural and underserved communities, including residents who rely on private wells.
The bill grew from an initiative developed by the WQA’s Clean Water for All task force, which aims to collaborate with policymakers to ensure all Americans have access to safe and healthy drinking water.
“We applaud Sens. 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 WQA Executive Director Pauli Undesser, MWS. “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.”
Sen. Baldwin said that across Wisconsin, as in other states, “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.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.”
The act would help these rural and underserved communities by authorizing a new U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program to cover the costs of water quality testing and the purchase, installation, and maintenance of POU/POE water filtration systems certified to address health-based contaminants found in their drinking water. Funding would go directly to individuals, licensed child-care facilities, and non-profits that are equipped to help people go through the process of testing and then finding and installing a water treatment product to address their situation.
“Maintaining and upgrading water and wastewater systems is vital to ensuring the economic and environmental health of our communities,” Sen. Collins said. “This bipartisan legislation will help reduce health-based contaminants like PFAS in drinking water, increase consumer confidence, and protect public health.”
The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Angus King (I-ME).
An estimated 23 million U.S. households rely on private wells for their drinking water. Wells are not subject to the same oversight and testing as municipal water systems, which can delay the identification of potential health hazards in local groundwater.
Baldwin introduced a similar bill into the 117th Congress, where it later was co-sponsored by Collins and the three other senators. The Senate bill was followed by a House version introduced by U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and David Rouzer (R-NC), later joined by a half dozen co-sponsors. A House version of the bill is expected to be introduced in the 118th Congress soon.
More than 30 organizations have joined WQA in publicly supporting the bill, including the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, National Ground Water Association, The Water Council, NSF International, IAPMO, the American Supply Association, the Water Systems Council, the Water Well Trust, and the Groundwater Foundation.
More information on the bill, including the full text of the legislation and a one-page explainer sheet, is available at wqa.org/healthyh2O.
WQA is a not-for-profit trade association representing the residential, commercial, and industrial water treatment industry. WQA’s education and professional certification programs have been providing industry-standardized training and credentialing since 1977. The WQA Gold Seal certification program has been certifying products that contribute to the safe consumption of water since 1959. The WQA Gold Seal program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). WQA publishes a consumer-friendly website, BetterWaterToday.org.