Improving Senate Bill 373

There’s been a lot of talk about rolling back parts of SB 373. On Monday, the “Public Water System Supply Study Commission” established by SB 373 issued its first report which contains several recommendations to strengthen protections for our drinking water.

The Commission members were not appointed until late in the summer and the Commission held its first meeting in September. Given this short timeline, the Commission did not thoroughly address all of the issues that it is charged with studying. Nevertheless, the Commission has recommended that the Legislature take several actions, including:

  • Require water utilities to annually update and exercise their source water protection plans to ensure that the plans are up to date and that relevant information is communicated to emergency response partners
  • Appropriate $12.2 million to help water utilities pay for source water protection plans
  • Support the creation of an automated system (bringing together spill reporting hotlines, county 911 systems, etc) to immediately notify public water systems and the Bureau for Public Health in the event of a spill
  • Create tax credits for landowners who engage in source water protection activities

Senate Bill 373 does not specify how long this Commission is supposed to continue meeting. But there is real potential with the Commission, which brings together all of the right regulatory agencies (including the Public Service Commission, Bureau for Public Health, and the Department of Environmental Protection). It has a real opportunity to provide the regulatory coordination that was so clearly lacking in the lead-up to January 9th, 2014.

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