Responding to high lead levels in the drinking water systems of Boston and the nation's capitol, Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced legislation to overhaul the Safe Drinking Water Act. He was joined by Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).
The Lead-Free Drinking Water Bill of 2004 would place new responsibilities on the EPA and the nation's public water systems to ensure that public health is not compromised by lead in drinking water. It would also ban leaded plumbing fixtures and components, which, under the current law, are allowed to contain 8% lead.
A letter signed by Jeffords and six other senators was sent to EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt in late April asking for an explanation of why it took the EPA two years to discover that the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA), which it has primary jurisdiction over, violated the SDWA.
In March, the House Government Reform Committee called on the EPA to review the federal rules, reported the Washington Post. Other investigations into the issue have been launched by the General Accounting Office, the D.C. inspector general and a law firm hired by the WASA board of directors.