Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) and Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Environment and the Economy Subcommittee, today met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water and Drinking Water Director Peter Grevatt to discuss substantive solutions that can be implemented to ensure our drinking water is safe. The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Environment and the Economy Subcommittee, of which Latta is a member, has primary jurisdiction over the Safe Drinking Water Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ohio state officials also joined the discussion via phone.
“The goal of today’s discussion was to have a thoughtful conversation about how we can best develop long-term, substantive solutions that will ensure the safety of our drinking water,” said Latta. “While everyone wants action to be taken as quickly as possible, these issues cannot be resolved overnight. It is imperative that we utilize the data we have at our disposal, as well as new, emerging technologies, to create a clear path forward. This discussion is only one component of a comprehensive approach, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure the health and quality of our water.”
At the meeting, the U.S. EPA indicated the agency has a draft health advisory. It is in the process of scientific peer review and is expected to be released in early to mid Spring 2015 – a timeframe that will allow accurate data and sound science, rather than arbitrary rhetoric, to lead guidance.
The discussion also underscored the need for academia, local, state and federal governments, and industry to work together to address the gaps that exist between science, policy and practice.
Today’s discussion is a continuation of Congressman Latta’s efforts to address the algal bloom issues in the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie. Last week, Latta introduced H.R. 5456, the Great Lakes & Fresh Water Algal Blooms Information Act, bipartisan legislation to examine the causes and current mitigation efforts of algal blooms in the Great Lakes, their tributaries and surface fresh waters. In January, he also introduced H.R. 3862, the Clean Water Affordability Act, to assist municipalities in more affordably managing their wastewater infrastructure projects. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee also held a hearing to discuss this legislation in July.