Skip to content

Shaheen, Portman to Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Local Communities Protect Their Drinking Water From Harmful Contaminants

**Shaheen’s legislation provides federal resources and support to states dealing with drinking water contamination**

  **Shaheen's bill receives praise from leaders and organizations in New Hampshire fighting contamination of perflourinated chemicals**

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) will soon introduce bipartisan legislation to improve federal efforts to identify the public health effects of emerging contaminants such as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and cyanotoxins. These potentially harmful and unregulated materials are increasingly being detected in drinking water across the country, including in New Hampshire and Ohio. The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act addresses barriers that limit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) response to emerging contaminants. The bill also expedites analysis of these harmful chemicals and provides support and resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials.

“I’ve spoken with Granite State families who are worried about their children getting sick from drinking contaminated water, and I share their concerns,” said Shaheen. “We need to give these families peace of mind, and the federal government needs to be a better partner to New Hampshire communities that are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of their drinking water. My bipartisan legislation bolsters cooperation between the EPA and local communities and also makes agency resources more easily accessible. It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to protect the health and well-being of the families we represent."

“The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act will improve federal efforts to identify the health impacts of unregulated contaminants found in our drinking water sources, such as cyanotoxins, which contribute to the harmful algal blooms found on Lake Erie and in water bodies throughout Ohio.” said Portman.  “In addition, this legislation builds upon my legislation that was signed into law, the Microbeads Free Waters Act, to phase out the production of plastic microbeads, another  contaminant found in the Great Lakes that threatens public health and ecosystems. Lake Erie is not only a precious resource, but it also provides drinking water for 11 million people and this bill takes steps to protect this important asset for Ohio.”

The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act establishes a national strategy to coordinate the federal response to emerging contaminants, and provides assistance to states in responding to these materials. Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Direct the EPA to create a program to provide federal support and technical assistance to communities that have detected emerging contaminants in their water supply.
  • Establish and maintain a comprehensive database of resources to assist states and water stakeholders with testing for emerging contaminants. 
  • Direct the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services to convene an interagency working group to improve Federal efforts to identify and respond to emerging contaminants.
  • Direct the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop an interagency federal research strategy to improve the identification, analysis and treatment of emerging contaminants.

“Senator Shaheen's proposed legislation is crucial to accelerate steps to protect drinking water in New Hampshire, which is our most precious resource,” said State Rep. Mindi Messmer, who also leads the New Hampshire Safe Water Alliance. “New Hampshire Safe Water Alliance (NHSWA) applauds Senator Shaheen for introducing legislation that would improve the state and federal response to emerging contaminants. NHSWA was founded to advocate for safe drinking water across New Hampshire where contaminants such as PFCs and 1,4-dioxane threaten the drinking and surface water resources of many cities and towns. NHSWA feels that this proactive legislation is a critical step in protecting our drinking water and reducing chronic illness."

“This proposed legislation is exactly what communities like ours would benefit from; proposing a task force, an initiative for treatment, and a database of resources are all excellent and needed,” said Andrea Amico of Testing for Pease, and a Member of the Community Assistance Panel—Pease. “We are very supportive of this proposed legislation and so grateful to Senator Shaheen for her leadership on this very important issue.”

"Granite State Rural Water Association commends Senator Shaheen for introducing the Safe Drinking  Water Assistance  Act,” said Jennifer Palmiotto, Executive Director of the Granite State Rural Water Association. “We support this legislation which would work to identify, analyze, and provide guidance on emerging contaminants in an effort to safeguard public health while increasing clarity for water utilities."