Vermont Senator Proposes Stricter Drinking-Water Legislation

Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.) announced this week that he will introduce legislation that aims to eliminate lead from the nation’s drinking water. The Lead-Free Drinking Water Act, the first major proposed revision of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 14 years, would ban plumbing fixtures with more than 0.02 percent lead and require water utilities to test more regularly for lead, notify the public more quickly if a problem is detected, and pay large fines if they fail to do so. It would also require the U.S. EPA to revisit current standards governing lead in drinking water and consider whether to make it a federal crime to exceed the standards, and it would offer $200 million a year for four years to help utilities comply. “It is time to get the lead out of the pipes, out of the water and out of our families and out of our lives,” said Jeffords. Top EPA water official Benjamin Grumbles said that national legislation on this issue is “premature.”