Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (09/27/1994)

Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1994 - Amends the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publish a proposed list of at least 15 contaminants that may occur in public water systems and that are not currently subject to regulation. Provides for proposed lists of at least 12 additional contaminants every four years.) (Current law requires EPA to regulate 25 contaminants every three years.) Authorizes a waiver of the requirement to select an additional 12 contaminants after 2010 if the Administrator determines that the number of unregulated contaminants meeting criteria is fewer than 12.

(Sec. 3) Directs the Administrator, in selecting unregulated contaminants, to select those that present the greatest public health concern, taking into consideration effects upon subgroups of the population that are at greater health risk.

Bases the determination to regulate a contaminant on findings that: (1) the contaminant is known to occur in public water systems; (2) the contaminant occurs in concentrations which may have adverse health effects; and (3) regulation of the contaminant presents an opportunity to reduce health risks.

Requires the Administrator to promulgate maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs) and national primary drinking water regulations for contaminants to be regulated.

Authorizes the Administrator to publish health advisories or take other actions for contaminants not subject to regulations.

Directs the Administrator, as part of a study of health effects of contaminants for regulatory purposes, to examine methods for identifying subpopulations that may be impacted by such contaminants. Authorizes appropriations.

Requires the Administrator to publish an MCLG and a national primary drinking water regulation for cryptosporidium for public water systems serving 10,000 persons or more.

Authorizes States with primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems (primacy) to establish alternatives to filtration requirements for systems having uninhabited, undeveloped watersheds in consolidated ownership and access to, and activities in, such watersheds if the public health will be protected by such alternatives. Terminates such authority three years after this Act's enactment.

Removes a provision requiring national primary drinking water regulations to take effect 18 months after promulgation. Directs States with primacy to adopt corresponding State regulations. Requires compliance within 36 months of promulgation unless additional time is necessary for capital improvements.

(Sec. 4) Directs the Administrator, for any national primary drinking water regulation proposed and promulgated after this Act's enactment, to consider, in the case of nonthreshold contaminants, the likely incremental compliance costs and the incremental public health risk reduction benefits afforded by alternative levels. Permits such cost and benefit consideration for threshold contaminants. Makes such consideration inapplicable to the first promulgation or initial revision after such enactment date with respect to regulations for: (1) contaminants covered by proposed regulations for radionuclides; (2) sulfate; and (3) contaminants covered by specified proposed negotiated rules on disinfectants and disinfection by-products and enhanced surface water treatment (bars such consideration for promulgation of second stage regulations of such contaminants as well). Applies cost and benefit consideration to contaminants regulated prior to this Act's enactment date or subsequent revisions of regulations for those contaminants initially exempted by this section only if changes in technology, treatment techniques, or other means permit greater protection of health.

Authorizes the Administrator, if greater protection is not achievable, to initiate a new rulemaking or retain existing regulations.

Requires the Administrator to promulgate a national primary drinking water regulation for radon.

Provides for the review of national primary drinking water regulations at least once every five (currently, three) years.

(Sec. 5) Requires the Administrator, concurrently with the promulgation of a national primary drinking water regulation establishing: (1) a maximum contaminant level (MCL), to promulgate a listing of the best technology or other means available for achieving compliance for large water systems and for systems serving between 3,300 and 10,000 persons and 3,300 or fewer, respectively; and (2) a treatment technique for a contaminant, to promulgate a listing of such technology for achieving a level of protection of public health equivalent to that provided by treatment for large systems and systems in such size ranges.

(Sec. 6) Expands the list of requirements States must meet to maintain primacy to require States to take measures to protect the distribution system from contamination due to leakage from sewage lines.

Directs the Administrator to promulgate a regulation to govern the recycling of filter backwash water within the treatment process of a public water system.

(Sec. 7) Adds to the list of requirements a State must meet to maintain primacy that a State implements requirements for the certification of laboratories conducting tests and for operators of community and nontransient noncommunity public water systems.

Requires the Administrator to promulgate regulations specifying minimum standards for certification programs.

(Sec. 10) Grants variances from best technology requirements to allow systems serving 3,300 persons or fewer to use best available affordable technology (BAAT) under certain conditions. Limits such variances to five years but provides for renewals under certain conditions. Prohibits variances for microbiological contaminants.

(Sec. 11) Sets the maximum exemption period for public water systems serving fewer than 3,300 persons at four years if the State has primacy and determines that: (1) the system cannot meet the MCL or install BAAT due to compelling economic or other circumstances; (2) the system could not comply with the MCL through the use of alternate water supplies; (3) the granting of the exemption will provide a drinking water supply that protects public health; and (4) the State has examined the capability of the system to comply and determined if management or restructuring changes can be made that will result in compliance or improve water quality. Provides for renewals under certain conditions. Prohibits exemptions for microbiological contaminants.

(Sec. 12) Directs the Administrator to issue guidelines for State programs to bring systems into, and to maintain, compliance.

Provides for State programs to assure viability of public water systems. Sets forth restrictions on funding to small systems that have a history of monitoring violations. Bars financial assistance to any system established after this Act's enactment date unless the State has an effective operating permit program or means to ensure that the system has the management and technical capacity and financial capability to maintain compliance.

Requires States to establish programs for assessing the long-term technical, managerial, and financial capability of community and nontransient noncommunity systems serving fewer than 10,000 persons that are in violation of requirements or in jeopardy of noncompliance. Restricts State revolving fund (SRF) assistance to States that fail to implement viability assessments or programs.

(Sec. 13) Directs the Administrator to publish guidance for States with primacy for public water systems to carry out source water assessment programs. Makes systems eligible for monitoring relief upon completion of assessments in delineated areas.

Requires the Administrator to conduct a demonstration project to demonstrate the most effective and protective means of assessing and protecting source waters serving large metropolitan areas and located on Federal lands.

Directs States to submit source water petition programs to the Administrator. Authorizes such petitions to request States to assist in, or redirect resources to, addressing the origins of contaminants that are not adequately addressed by the wellhead protection or other programs.

(Sec. 14) Authorizes States with primacy to modify the monitoring requirements for regulated chemical pesticide contaminants, polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin, and certain unregulated Phase II and V contaminants for public water systems serving fewer than 3,300 persons during an interim relief period if: (1) monitoring for a contaminant fails to detect its presence in groundwater or surface water supplying the systems; and (2) the State determines that the contaminant is unlikely to be detected by further monitoring. Terminates interim monitoring relief when permanent monitoring relief is approved or 36 months after this Act's enactment, whichever comes first.

Authorizes States with primacy that have approved wellhead protection and source assessment programs to adopt tailored alternative monitoring requirements for systems where such monitoring would comply with the Administrator's guidelines. Requires such programs to be adequate to assure compliance with, and enforcement of, national primary drinking water regulations. Makes alternative monitoring inapplicable to regulated microbiological contaminants, disinfectants and disinfection by-products, or corrosion by-products. Directs the Administrator to issue guidelines for States to follow in proposing alternative requirements to the standardized monitoring framework for chemical contaminants. Requires alternative monitoring programs to apply on a contaminant-by-contaminant basis and provides that systems must show that a contaminant is not present in the water supply or, if present, it is below the MCL.

(Sec. 15) Makes Federal agencies owning or operating facilities in wellhead protection areas, engaged in activities that may result in the contamination of water supplies, or owning or operating any public water system subject to Federal, State, interstate, and local requirements to the same extent such requirements apply to others.

Waives immunity otherwise applicable to the United States with respect to substantive or procedural requirements. Absolves Federal employees of liability for civil penalties in connection with acts or omissions related to such requirements, but subjects them to criminal sanctions. Exempts Federal agencies from criminal sanctions. Authorizes the President to exempt any Federal agency in the executive branch from compliance with a requirement.

Requires all funds collected by a State from penalties from the Federal Government to be used only for projects to improve or protect the environment or to defray the costs of environmental protection or enforcement unless a State law requires the funds to be used differently.

(Sec. 16) Increases the maximum penalty for failures to comply with orders issued in response to emergency situations where contaminants pose an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health.

(Sec. 17) Imposes penalties on system owners or operators who fail to report violations of MCLs or treatment techniques.

(Sec. 18) Requires the Administrator to enter into agreements with States to make capitalization grants to be deposited in State drinking water treatment revolving funds.

Permits such funds to be used only for providing financial assistance to public water systems for expenditures that will facilitate compliance with national primary drinking water regulations. Allocates 15 percent of amounts in such funds solely for loan assistance to systems which regularly serve fewer than 10,000 persons.

Permits assistance to systems not owned by governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, or Indian tribes based on public health and financial needs and repayment ability.

Sets forth requirements for agreements, including that no financial assistance will be provided to a public water system if expenses could be avoided or significantly reduced by consolidation of such system with another system.

Authorizes the Administrator to make grants for public water system expenditures to Indian tribes and Alaskan Native villages which are ineligible for funding under this section.

Requires the Administrator to make allotments for the District of Columbia and specified U.S. territories for public water systems.

Authorizes the State of Virginia to demonstrate alternative approaches to intergovernmental coordination to assist in the financing of new drinking water facilities in specified rural communities in southwestern Virginia that are experiencing economic hardship.

Authorizes appropriations.

Authorizes the Administrator to provide technical assistance to small systems to enable such systems to maintain compliance with national primary drinking water regulations. Authorizes appropriations.

Extends the authorization of appropriations for grants for State public water system supervision programs.

(Sec. 20) Requires the Administrator to review and revise the list of unregulated contaminants for which monitoring is required every five years. Limits such list to a maximum of 40 contaminants.

(Sec. 21) Directs the Administrator to maintain a national drinking water occurrence data base, using monitoring data on the occurrence of both regulated and unregulated contaminants in public water systems.

(Sec. 22) Provides that failure of a State to abide by a guideline shall not be a basis for the State's loss of primacy. Authorizes the Administrator to reduce grants otherwise available to a State under the SRF program if the State fails to abide by a guideline.

(Sec. 23) Authorizes administrative penalties for specified violations.

(Sec. 24) Directs the Administrator to issue guidelines to assist systems in assessing the conditions to return water from a system used for heat pumps and similar devices to the distribution system of the public water system.

(Sec. 25) Requires the Administrator to publish guidelines for water conservation plans for systems serving fewer than 3,300 persons, between 3,300 and 10,000 persons, and more than 10,000 persons. Permits States with primacy to require public water systems to submit water conservation plans as a condition of receiving grants or loans.

(Sec. 26) Directs the Administrator to promulgate regulations containing a health effects based performance standard establishing minimal leaching levels of lead from new submersible pumps anticipated to be used in domestic water wells. Applies such standard to new pumps manufactured for, or first introduced into, interstate commerce after the effective date of the regulation. Sets a minimum standard that shall not allow lead concentration in drinking water to increase by more than 15 parts per billion when in prolonged contact with the pump. Waives such regulation requirement if pumps are anticipated to comply with voluntary standards that are at least as protective.

Requires the Administrator to determine whether new submersible pumps which convey drinking water and contain brass alloys containing at least .2 percent lead are being manufactured for, or first introduced into, interstate commerce. Prohibits the Administrator from promulgating regulations under this section if such pumps are not being manufactured or introduced into interstate commerce.

Directs the Administrator to determine if: (1) voluntary standards for new plumbing fittings manufactured for or introduced into interstate commerce which convey drinking water have been developed that are at least as protective of human health so as not to cause lead concentration in drinking water to increase by more than 15 parts per billion when in prolonged contact with the fitting; and (2) such fittings can be anticipated to comply with such standards within five years of enactment. Requires the Administrator to promulgate a health effects based performance standard establishing minimal leaching levels from such fittings if such voluntary standards have not been developed.

Imposes penalties upon persons who manufacture such pumps or plumbing fittings or introduce them into interstate commerce in violation of such requirements.

Requires the Federal Trade Commission to: (1) conduct an investigation into the veracity of claims that devices manufactured, sold, or distributed in commerce for use in single and multi-family residences will improve the quality of drinking water or eliminate or reduce the level of drinking water contaminants; and (2) take action to ensure that such claims are consistent with the Federal Trade Commission Act.

(Sec. 27) Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, after the Administrator promulgates a national primary drinking water regulation for a contaminant, to issue a regulation for that contaminant in bottled water or make a finding that a regulation is not necessary to protect the public health because the contaminant is not present in bottled water. Requires the relevant MCL or treatment technique for the contaminant in bottled water to be as stringent or protective as that for the contaminant in drinking water systems. Makes the drinking water regulation the standard for bottled water if the Secretary fails to establish a regulation.

(Sec. 28) Directs the Administrator to: (1) enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of the human health effects of arsenic, subject to the availability of appropriations; and (2) promulgate a national primary drinking water regulation for arsenic.

(Sec. 31) Authorizes appropriations to carry out the SDWA for eight fiscal years.