House Passes HABs Bill

On February 24th, by unanimous consent, the House passed HR 212, the Drinking Water Protection Act.  The measure, introduced in early January by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), speaks to the need for risk assessment and management of cyanotoxins in drinking water.  HABs, or harmful algal blooms, caused the city of Toledo, OH to issue a “do not drink” order for waters taken from Lake Erie where microcystin, a known cyanotoxin, was detected in the water supply.
HR 212 calls on EPA to develop a strategic risk assessment and management plan within 90 days of enactment.  The plan would outline methods to evaluate human health risks; include a comprehensive list of cyanotoxins; and summarize known adverse human health effects and factors that cause cyanobacteria to proliferate and express toxins as well as determine whether to publish health advisories.  EPA would also be required to establish guidance for feasible analytical methods, monitoring frequencies, and feasible treatment options.  EPA would be directed to enter into cooperative agreements with, and provide technical assistance to, affected states and public water systems.
Across the Capitol, Ohio Senators Rob Portman (R) and Sherrod Brown (D) introduced two measures that include many of the same provisions contained in HR 212.  The first, S 460, is the Drinking Water Protection Act that calls for similar risk assessments and management approaches.  However, the Senators separated the health advisory language into a second bill – S 462, the Safe and Secure Drinking Water Protection Act.  Both bills have been referred to the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee for consideration.