Ohio Lawmakers Reintroduce Legislation Aimed at Managing Cyanotoxins

Last week, two Ohio lawmakers reintroduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that addresses toxic algal blooms in drinking water sources.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) reintroduced legislation directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publish a health advisory on microcystin, a toxic byproduct of harmful algal blooms. Her bill aims to provide threatened municipalities guidance on safe consumption limits, testing protocols and treatment methods.

Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) also reintroduced his Drinking Water Protection Act, which would require the EPA to develop and submit a strategic plan to Congress for assessing and managing the risks associated with cyanotoxins in drinking water.

Kaptur?s bill would provide threatened municipalities guidance on safe consumption limits, testing protocols, and treatment methods.? The bill had to be reintroduced this Congress after her similar bill in the 113th Congress did not get a vote in the House.
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?We cannot let our communities go blindly into another season of toxic algal blooms without some further guidance from the U.S. EPA,? said Kaptur.??Five months since our water was shut off on the shores of Lake Erie, our officials are still looking for answers and have no better standards for measurement than they did last August,? she added.

Kaptur?s bill, H.R. 243, would direct the U.S. EPA within 90 days to publish, as an interim measure, an advisory that would help inform and educate local and state officials while EPA continues to work on a federal standard for microsystin in drinking water.?Despite requests that state and federal regulators set microcystin limits in drinking water, local water plant operators rely on World Health Organization guidance instead of U.S. EPA science.?The EPA has been developing a federal limit for years, but has yet to issue one.

Kaptur introduced the measure the same week Representatives returned to Washington for a new Congress.? ?We cannot waste any time with the next algae season rapidly approaching,? said Kaptur.? A similar bill was derailed by an unnamed Congressman last December, despite bipartisan support and after unanimous passage through the Senate. ?
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Congresswoman Kaptur said she hopes reintroducing the bill will prod US EPA to act on its own and issue long-awaited standards on drinking water for areas affected by toxic algae blooms. ?I hope our bill expedites the work on drinking water standards and offers some measure of assurance to communities affected by microsystin that the best science that is available is being brought to bear,? she said.
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Kaptur was joined in introducing the bipartisan bill by Representatives Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), John Conyers (D-Michigan), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Brian Higgins (D-New York), David Joyce (R-Ohio), Sander Levin (D- Michigan), Candice Miller (R- Michigan), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, DC), Mike Quigley (D-Illinois), Tim Ryan (D- Ohio), and Louise Slaughter (D-New York).

Congressman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) also reintroduced the Drinking Water Protection Act, legislation to help protect drinking water from cyanotoxins caused by harmful algal blooms. This legislation, which he also sponsored in the 113th?Congress, requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to?develop and submit a strategic plan to Congress for assessing and managing the risks associated with cyanotoxins in drinking water.

?In addressing the health of our drinking water, we must take a thoughtful, robust approach,? said Latta. ?The Drinking Water Protection Act takes into account insight and testimony from key stakeholders at the local, state and federal level and fosters continued, ongoing coordination among the agencies involved. It also requires the EPA to develop a strategic plan for assessing and managing the risks associated with cyanotoxins in our drinking water and establishes attainable timelines that will ensure the health of our drinking water in a timely manner. I look forward to continuing to work with the leadership in the House, as well as my colleagues in the Senate, to move this legislation forward.?

Latta introduced the Drinking Water Protection Act following a?hearing?that the Energy and Commerce Committee?s?Environment and the Economy Subcommittee held in November at his request to examine cyanotoxins in drinking water, as well as solutions to address the problem. The legislation directs the EPA to formulate a plan, including the necessary steps and timelines to fully evaluate the health risks of cyanotoxins, publish a comprehensive list of potentially harmful cyanotoxins,?as well as advisories and feasible testing and treatment options, and provide additional guidance and technical assistance to states to help mitigate risks to drinking water systems. A copy of the legislation can be found here.

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