Congressman Pallone Leads Efforts to Pass Safe Drinking Water Legislation through House Committee

Jul 27, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, which addresses many of the challenges facing communities nationwide who do not have confidence in the safety of their drinking water.  Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) led House Democrats in bipartisan negotiations over the legislation, which would be the first major update to the Safe Drinking Water Act in over 20 years.  During negotiations, Pallone successfully advocated to include several important provisions into the bill including his proposal to provide grant funding to public schools to replace lead drinking water fountains.

“This bill will offer real funding and real tools to make our drinking water safer and to rebuild our drinking water infrastructure,” Pallone said.  “I am also proud to say that the bill includes funding to replace lead drinking fountains in schools and will require EPA to assess, for the first time, the anticipated costs to replace our lead service lines nationwide.  Safe drinking water should be a bipartisan issue that we can all agree on, and I am pleased that today we came together to improve our nation’s drinking water infrastructure.”

Pallone’s lead drinking fountain provision would authorize $5 million for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2021 to help replace older fountains and to supplement the costs of monitoring and reporting lead levels in the drinking water of schools of a local educational agency receiving such funds.

The New Jersey congressman has been a longtime leader in calling for action to improve water infrastructure and to remove lead from our drinking water. Earlier this year, Pallone led House Democrats in introducing legislation to comprehensively update the Safe Drinking Water Act. 

The Drinking Water System Improvement Act also includes a number of important provisions such as:

·         An $8 billion increase in infrastructure funding over five years;

·         Funding for states to oversee drinking water systems;

·         A minimum level of assistance for disadvantaged communities;

·         A requirement that EPA make consumer confidence reports more accurate, more understandable, and more frequent;

·         A buy American requirement for iron and steel products and Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements.

The Drinking Water System Improvement Act is now eligible to come to the House Floor for a vote by the full chamber.