Saturday, February 23, 2013

HR 654 and Water Facility Security

As I noted in an earlier blog, Rep Harper (R,MS) introduced HR 654, the  Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act. This bill would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300f et seq) to reauthorize and address funding priorities for technical assistance to small public water systems.

While the bill does not directly affect the language for the protection of water systems from terrorist attack of 42 USC 300i-2, it would, in passing, possibly provide some funding support for such activities. It would add §300j(1)(e)(8)(A):

“The Administrator may use amounts made available to carry out this subsection to provide technical assistance to nonprofit organizations that provide to small public water systems onsite technical assistance, circuit-rider technical assistance programs, onsite and regional training, assistance with implementing source water protection plans, and assistance with implementing monitoring plans, rules, regulations, and water security [emphasis added] enhancements.”

The congressional findings section of this bill implies that small water systems are those that “serve a population of less than 10,000 individuals” {§2(3)}. This is well above the 3,300 minimum used for the security requirements of public water treatment facilities. And the funding described in this bill is separate from the anti-terrorism program funding provided for small public water treatment facilities in 42 USC 300i-2(e).

At this point it is not clear to me how likely this bill will be to make it to the floor in the House. I don’t see anything in the bill that would interfere with a bipartisan vote in either the House or Senate. It is just a matter of how much of a priority the leadership would place on moving this to the floor for consideration. I would not be surprised to see this added to an EPA funding bill if one gets considered in the 113th Congress.

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