Counties Oppose New Water Standards as Unnecessary, Unreasonable

On February 23, 2023, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee in opposition to SB 512 – Drinking Water – Legionella Pneumophila Bacterium – Minimizing Growth and Transmission.

This bill requires localities operating public water systems to maintain a detectable residual disinfectant level of at least 0.5 milligrams per liter of chlorine. While the goal of delivering safe public utilities is noble, the procedure called for in SB 512 imposes an unreasonable mandate on local government. The timeline counties would need to adhere to is particularly onerous—under the bill, counties would be required to notify the public and test for certain water contaminants no more than four hours after becoming aware of a disruption in a water system. Compliance with these requirements, and the myriad others listed in the bill, would no doubt increase operating costs and expenses for ratepayers.

From the MACo Testimony:

No local leaders want unsafe water for their communities. The specific means and dictates of SB 512 are at the heart of county concerns, not the uniting goal to deliver safe public utilities. Local governments appropriately manage most water systems and strive to provide the safest service to the general public. They have managed public water systems and have accounted for health and safety successfully – and in many cases, have been far ahead of the State’s requirements… While counties appropriately bear the burden of water infrastructure safety and welcome partnering with the State on these important goals, SB 512 prescribes an arbitrary and unrealistic approach. This legislation ignores already existing best practices for containment, notification, and testing.

More on MACo’s Advocacy:

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2023 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database

Learn more about MACo’s 2023 Legislative Initiatives

Read more General Assembly News on MACo’s Conduit Street blog