Legislation to create drinking water standard of an algal toxin awaits House vote
Senate Passes Safe and Secure Drinking Water Act
Federal legislation that would compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move faster on adopting a drinking water standard for microcystin, an algal toxin, unanimously passed the U.S. Senate on Dec. 11, 2014, and is awaiting a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) and Rob Portman (R., Ohio), the Senate version of the Safe and Secure Drinking Water Act would hold the EPA to its commitment to publish a health advisory for microcystin by late next spring, and require the agency to submit periodic reports to Congress on the evolving science behind the issue.
The goal is to get the EPA to eventually adopt a firm standard for an acceptable level of microcystin in drinking water, which the agency has said could take years.
Lacking a domestic guideline, most states use a World Health Organization guideline of 1.0 parts per billion of microcystin-lr that was developed in 1998 for that toxin. But microcystin-lr is only one of 80 known varieties of microcystin, and the science that went into that guideline is more than 16 years old and not specific to the US. Water treatment plant operators have said they need more EPA direction.