Introducing the Safe Water Drinking Act
In recent years, many sources of North Carolinians’ drinking water have been polluted by coal ash, GenX, and other chemical spills. We all need and deserve clean water. That’s why Rep. Ashton Clemmons of Guilford County and I are proud to have proposed safe drinking water legislation that will limit known toxins and protect residents from harm.
Clean drinking water is an essential right for all North Carolinians. With levels of 1,4-dioxane in multiple sources of drinking water across the state hitting dangerous highs, we must act quickly to ensure that all North Carolinians have clean water regardless of their income or zip code.
We crafted our bill in partnership with Future Now and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and last week legislators in 20 states introduced similar legislation. The bill provides for state-level standards for drinking water to limit known toxins and protect residents from harm.
North Carolina’s proposed Safe Drinking Water Act protects clean drinking water for families, homes, schools and businesses by requiring the state to protect residents from harmful contaminants in drinking water. The Act will:
- Establish state-wide maximum contaminant levels for the toxic chemicals PFOS, PFOA, other PFAS compounds, chromium-6 (the Erin Brockovich chemical) and 1,4 dioxane in public drinking water systems;
- Direct the state to consider limits on other pollutants in drinking water systems when two or more other states have set limits or issued guidance for a given pollutant;
- Provide for review of the best available scientific evidence in setting maximum contaminant limits;
- Ensure contaminant limits are sufficient to protect vulnerable people, including pregnant and nursing mothers, infants, and children.
These are common sense steps to protect our families from harmful chemicals. It’s long past time we prioritized clean water in North Carolina.
“This bill will limit known toxins in drinking water, protecting families, homes, schools and businesses,” says my fellow bill sponsor Rep. Ashton Clemmons.“ Access to clean air and water is a human right and its protection is too important to leave up to polluters to self-regulate.” I couldn’t agree more.
The Trump EPA has failed to act to protect our families from dangerous levels of contaminants in our water. But we can take action here in North Carolina, passing a state-level Safe Drinking Water Act that sets the standards the EPA refuses to institute and protect families from dangerous contaminants.
“When the water coming out of your kitchen tap poisons you, it’s someone’s fault — the time’s past due to protect people and hold big polluters accountable,” said Daniel Squadron, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Future Now.
“We can’t sit around hoping the EPA will protect us from toxic PFAS in our drinking water,” said Mae Wu, Senior Director of Health and Food at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They have refused to regulate it for decades, which is one reason we find PFAS chemicals everywhere we look. But state officials can begin taking steps to rid our homes and communities of these forever chemicals beginning today.”
In partnership with Data for Progress and YouGov, Future Now polled 1,380 registered voters across the country to test their support for this policy. Nearly three quarters of voters, 73 percent, supported the proposal. That included a majority of Republicans, independents, and Democrats.
States including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont have already taken action and are leading the way in protecting their residents from these dangerous chemicals.
Ensuring clean water should be one of our most basic expectations of government. It’s long past time for the North Carolina General Assembly to step up and prioritize North Carolinians’ health over corporate polluters’ profits.
Graig Meyer is the State Representative for House District 50, serving Caswell and Orange Counties. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.