HR 212: Drinking Water Protection Act

(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and submit to Congress a strategic plan for assessing and managing risks associated with algal toxins in drinking water provided by public water systems. Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, have the ability to produce cyanotoxins, or algal toxins. When certain conditions are favorable, algae can rapidly multiply causing blooms, or dense surface scums, that may be toxic.

The plan must include steps and time lines to:

  • evaluate the risk to human health from drinking water contaminated with algal toxins;
  • establish, publish, and update a comprehensive list of algal toxins that may have an adverse effect on human health, taking into account likely exposure levels;
  • summarize the known adverse human health effects of algal toxins and the factors that cause toxin-producing cyanobacteria and algae to grow rapidly and make toxins;
  • determine whether to publish health advisories for algal toxins and establish guidance regarding feasible analytical methods to quantify the presence of algal toxins and guidance regarding the frequency of monitoring necessary to determine if the algal toxins are present;
  • recommend feasible treatment options, including procedures, equipment, and source water protection practices; and
  • enter into cooperative agreements with, and provide technical assistance to, affected states and public water systems to manage risks associated with algal toxins.

The EPA must update and resubmit the plan as appropriate.

The EPA must identify gaps in its understanding of algal toxins. It must also assemble and publish information from each agency that has examined or analyzed cyanobacteria or algal toxins or addressed public health concerns related to harmful algal blooms.

The Government Accountability Office must submit to Congress an inventory of funds expended by the United States for each of FY2010 through 2014 to examine or analyze toxin-producing cyanobacteria and algae or address public health concerns related to harmful algal blooms. The inventory must include the specific purpose for which the funds were made available, the law under which the funds were authorized, and the agency that received or spent the funds.

HR 212 was sponsored by Representative Robert Latta. It became law on August 7, 2015.