Boccieri Looks To Toughen Drinking Water Standards In EPA Budget Before Legislature Signs-off
Says amendments critical to preventing future water contamination crises

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today called for additional steps to be taken to strengthen the state’s response protocols in cases of drinking water contamination. The Poland lawmaker will offer three amendments to House Bill (HB) 512, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s mid-biennium review legislation, aimed at fixing the inadequate public notification process for lead contamination that contributed to the village of Sebring’s public health crisis earlier this year. 

“While this legislation is a step in the right direction toward preventing future lead contamination and improving the state’s public notification system, we can and must do more to ensure a water crisis similar to the one that devastated Sebring does not happen again,” said Boccieri. “The common-sense amendments I have prepared will hold the EPA accountable and ensure the public is notified in a timely manner should lead be found in their drinking water.” 

Boccieri’s amendments to strengthen HB 512 would do the following: 

-Require local health departments, local Emergency Management Agencies (EMAs) and water systems to create a joint plan for public notification of contaminated water. The plan, to be approved by the EPA, would help augment the public notification process. The amendment also defines a public health crisis to include an exceedance of the lead action level, requires the EPA director to adopt rules defining what methods of public notification will be used, and mandates annual lead training for water system operators. 

-Require the EPA to notify the public of lead-contaminated drinking water within two days if the local water system fails to complete such public notification. HB 512 currently allows the EPA to notify the public within eight days should the local water system fail to properly notify the public of water contamination within two days. 

-Require that the same civil and criminal penalties that apply to water systems for failing to notify the public also apply to the EPA director when he or she does not comply with the public notification requirements in the bill. 

State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) will offer a fourth amendment drafted by Rep. Boccieri to require all local water fountains to be built by U.S. companies. 

The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee will convene at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow in Statehouse Room 17 to consider amendments to HB 512 and potentially vote to report the legislation to the full House.  

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