By Carolyn Berndt
In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding its draft Consumer Confidence Report: Electronic Delivery Options and Considerations, NLC urged the agency to allow a "flexible approach, including use of electronic delivery options, for reporting information about the source and quality of drinking water to consumers when there is no violation of drinking water standards."
The purpose of the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) is to raise customers' awareness of where their drinking water comes from, the quality of their drinking water, what it takes to deliver water to their home and the importance of protecting drinking water sources. The CCR Rule, as established in the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act and finalized in 1998, requires each community water system serving more than 10,000 people to mail or otherwise directly deliver a copy of its CCR to each customer annually.
In August 2011, EPA identified the CCR Rule in the Agency's Final Plan for Periodic Retrospective Reviews of Existing Regulations as directed by Executive Order 13563: Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review (January 2011).
During the Retrospective Review, EPA aims to identify opportunities for improving the effectiveness of the methods used to communicate drinking water information to the public, while lowering the burden on water systems. In September 2012, EPA published the draft Consumer Confidence Report: Electronic Delivery Options and Considerations that evaluates several electronic delivery methods to determine which forms meet existing CCR Rule requirements. EPA expects to finalize the CCR Rule Retrospective Review in December 2012.
Advocates of alternative delivery options for the CCR are also supporting legislation in the House and Senate that would allow local governments and community water systems to use electronic delivery options when there is no violation of the maximum contaminant level for any regulated contaminant. In cases where there is a violation, the community water system would still be required to mail the CCR to consumers.
The two bills, End Unnecessary Costs Caused by Report Mailing Act of 2011 (H.R. 1340) sponsored by Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) and End Unnecessary Mailers Act of 2011 (S. 1578) sponsored by Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA), have stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee respectively since their introduction last year.
Recently, NLC supported a Consumer Confidence Report amendment offered by Sen. Toomey to the farm bill. While the Senate passed the farm bill in July, the CCR amendment, however, fell two votes short of the 60 needed to pass.