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Proposal to keep lead out of drinking water will make Ohio an example for the entire country

Melanie Houston, April 11, 2016

“To those who dare say that these timelines are too aggressive, I ask: what if it were your child, or your niece or nephew, who was exposed to lead? How long would you be willing to wait to know whether the water your child was drinking was safe?”

The OEC recently stood with the Ohio EPA to announce an aggressive plan to shore up Ohio’s laws and better protect Ohioans from the risk of lead exposure through drinking water. This groundbreaking proposal comes on the heels of a public health crisis from lead leaching into drinking water in Flint, Michigan and a similar, but smaller scale exposure, in Sebring, Ohio.

If enacted, Ohio will set a national standard for protecting drinking water from lead. TAKE ACTION: Tell your lawmakers to support HB 512, and help us secure permanent protections against lead in drinking water.

The Ohio EPA proposal was introduced as House Bill 512 just last week. The bill does a lot to protect Ohio families and includes many of the very solutions OEC championed shortly after the Sebring crisis. State lawmakers, Ohio EPA, Congressional members, and even the Whitehouse have relied on our policy work to understand what went wrong and what needs to be to prevent future incidents. Safeguards in the new Ohio EPA proposal include: more attention on corrosion control treatment plans; greater transparency through mapping of lead service lines; penalties for drinking water systems not following the law; and significant funding to update lead service lines and plumbing in Ohio schools.

Perhaps most noteworthy, though, are the new and improved notification timelines. In modern America, there is no good reason for anyone to go months, or even weeks, without knowing whether their drinking water is safe.

We live in an era of rapid communication and advanced technology – one in which schools can put systems in place to let parents know the same day that there has been a lice outbreak. We know that drinking water utilities can follow suit and put in place their own systems for rapid communication.

To those who dare say that these timelines are too aggressive, I ask: what if it were your child, or your niece or nephew, who was exposed to lead? How long would you be willing to wait to know whether the water your child was drinking was safe?

We know the federal standard on lead is not getting the job done. Updates to the federal standards will take time, and Ohioans shouldn’t have to wait for better protections.

Now is the time for Ohio to forge the path. We are hopeful that the members of the Ohio General Assembly will embrace these common sense updates to Ohio law, and quickly pass HB 512. I hope you will raise your voice with OEC, and encourage your lawmakers to do so by clicking here.

For quick look at how HB 512 is improving current law, see our nifty chart below. And please spread the word!

Federal lead and copper standard(US EPA) Ohio EPA Proposed lead standard
Water systems must notify individuals/households where lead samples were taken within 30 days of results being known Water systems must notify individuals/household where lead samples were taken within 2 business days of lab results being known
Water systems must notify customers of a lead action level exceedance within 60 days Water systems must notify customers of a lead action level exceedance within 2 business days
Water systems must notify the Ohio EPA within 90 days of the end of the monitoring period that they have completed consumer notifications Water systems must notify Ohio EPA within 5 days of receiving lab results that they have completed consumer notifications
No timeline is spelled out for providing info about availability of tap water testing for lead Water systems must provide customers in lead risk areas with info about the availability of tap water testing for lead within 5 business days after receiving lab results
Water systems have to educate consumers of the dangers of lead within 60 days Water systems have to educate consumers of the dangers of lead + provide information about health screenings & blood lead level testing within 30 days
No timeline is spelled out for labs to process lead test results Labs are required to process results for lead tests within 30 business days