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In wake of Flint water crisis, House passes drinking water safety bill

In response to the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where the tap water is contaminated with lead, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act.

It passed by a vote of 416 to two. Those opposed to the bill were Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, and Todd Rokita, R-Indiana. The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote.

The bill amends the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, requiring public water utilities to notify their consumers of excessive lead in their drinking water. It also requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a strategic plan to improve information sharing between water utilities, the states, the EPA, and drinking water consumers when there is too much lead in drinking water.

Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, who represents Flint, and Fred Upton, R-Michigan, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sponsored the bill.

On the House floor Wednesday, Upton called the bill "an important first step" in responding to the crisis in Flint. "Individual consumers will be told when their own house tests positive for lead problems," he explained. "If the community or states fail to notify the public, EPA will step in and do so."

Upton added, "Our hearts all go out to the folks of Flint, Michigan. The system let them down at every level, and that's unacceptable."