Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, introduced on Dec. 10 House Resolution 5361, the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, to strengthen federal and state efforts to improve the safety of the nation’s drinking water system.

“Every person in this country deserves to have clean, safe drinking water. PFAS and other contaminants in our drinking water threaten the health and safety of communities in Delaware and around this country,” said Blunt Rochester, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee. “This is a problem that requires Congressional action, and I am proud to lead this critical, bipartisan effort with Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers. I will continue to fight every day to protect Delawareans’ health and safety.”

This bipartisan bill will create a national strategy to coordinate the federal response to and scientific research on emerging contaminants and provide assistance to states in responding to public health challenges posed by potentially harmful materials.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency is required to routinely identify and analyze emerging contaminants and provide guidance to states, local officials and the public about the potential public health risks and acceptable contamination levels for these materials.

There is a critical need to address exposure to these contaminants and address any potential adverse health effects or greater impact on communities. The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act would remove the barriers limiting federal and state response to emerging contaminants, expediting the analysis of these harmful chemicals and providing much-needed guidance and support to states to help ensure that the nation’s drinking water will always be safe.

H.R. 5361 is the House companion to S. 1251, introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act will:

— Direct EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services to convene an interagency task force to improve federal efforts to identify and respond to emerging contaminants.

— Direct the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop an interagency federal research strategy to improve the identification, analysis, and treatment methods for emerging contaminants.

— Direct EPA to create a voluntary state assistance program to provide federal support and technical assistance to communities that have emerging contaminants in their water supply.

— Establish and maintain a comprehensive database of resources available to assist states and water stakeholders with testing for emerging contaminants.

The full text of the bill is available at bit.ly/2RFVn0K.