Boccieri: More Work Needed To Improve Public Notification For Lead-contaminated Water
Poland lawmaker successfully champions measures on lead-free water fountains, annual lead training

Today the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee adopted two ideas originally proposed by State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) to HB 512, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s mid-biennium review legislation. The two measures adopted will increase training requirements for local water authority operators with an annual assessment and bring school water fountains up to U.S. standards. 

“While everything I wanted in the bill wasn’t supported by the majority, this is a first step toward improved notification requirements for local consumers who may have lead in their water,” Rep. Boccieri said. “In particular, I thought our local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director, Dennis O’Hara, and the Mahoning County Board of Health Director, Pat Sweeney, did a fantastic job illustrating the challenges the legislature is pushing on local communities with regard to notification. I will continue to push for a coordinated effort between local water authorities, county EMA directors and boards of health to create a shelf plan, or quick reaction plan, to respond to public health crises.” 

A third amendment proposed by Rep. Boccieri for an inter-agency joint plan was tabled by the majority before the Emergency Management Association of Ohio and the Ohio Health Boards Association voted today to support the proposed coordinated effort. 

“Now that the state associations are on board with this coordination effort, we may have to revisit it when House Bill 512 comes up for consideration in the Senate,” said Rep. Boccieri. 

Despite the bill’s added improvements, Rep. Boccieri noted that there is still more work to be done to ensure that the public notification process outlined in HB 512 is executed successfully. Efforts to include a definition of what constitutes a public health crisis and timely notification were rebuffed, with the committee chairman suggesting they could be addressed in a later bill. 

“Although I applaud the EPA for making some improvements to this bill, I was disappointed to see that they did not listen to the input from local experts that testified in support of legislating additional coordination between local boards of health and county Emergency Management Agencies on the public notification requirements,” Rep. Boccieri said. “Even with the passage of this bill, the EPA still deflects any shared responsibility for their legal and moral obligation to notify consumers when a public health crisis arises.” 

HB 512 is scheduled to receive a vote from the full chamber in the House tomorrow.

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