Clinton announces drinking water health standards

President Clinton has announced two new public health standards for drinking water, and released $775 in low-interest loans for state drinking water improvements.

Two new public health standards were announced on 3 December 1998 – the first to be issued under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments of 1996. The new standards cover cryptosporidium and other disease-causing microbes, and disinfection byproducts.

According to the EPA, the first standard requires improved filtration and monitoring in water systems serving 60 million people nation-wide, and will prevent up to 460,000 cases of waterborne illness a year. The new standard for disinfection byproducts will require improved treatment practices in water systems serving 140 million people nation-wide, and is intended to reduce exposure to these byproducts by 25 percent.

Currently eighty-six percent of America’s tapwater complies with federal standards.

In coming years, guided by new data and science, the EPA says it will adopt several new drinking water standards and tighten existing ones.

New Funding

The 1996 SDWA amendments authorised a $9.6 billion fund to help upgrade drinking water systems. Nearly $870 million will be made available to states and communities in 1999.

The bulk — $775 million — comes from the Drinking Water State Revolving. These funds are used by states to provide low-interest loans to municipalities to construct or upgrade drinking water systems, and to prevent contamination through improved watershed protection.
In addition, the President announced $93.8 million in Public Water Supply Supervision grants. These funds are used by state drinking water programs to monitor drinking water quality, enforce drinking water standards, and provide technical assistance to local communities.

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