Counties Urge Clarity Notification Requirements for Water Suppliers

On March 30, 2023, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko submitted testimony to the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee requesting a letter of information on HB 624 – Environment – Suppliers of Water – Notification Requirements.

This bill comprehensively overhauls the process by which suppliers of water notify the Department of the Environment, as well as those who rely on the supplier’s services, if there is a positive test for E. coli. While the value of quickly identifying and remediating water contamination is without question, counties are concerned that the provisions of HB 624 would duplicate the existing work of several local jursidictions, and would potentially interfere with effective and established practices. Counties further suggest that the procedure this bill outlines might be more likely to achieve its intended purpose if it were folded into existing convention, or incorporated administratively.

From the MACo Testimony:

The health and safety of residents is the highest priority to any county. Counties, as owners and operators of critical infrastructure, are tasked with both supplying critical services and ensuring that those services do not harm their communities. Issues like water contamination are taken very seriously and have well established procedures for containment and appropriate notification. The clear intent of HB 624 is to uphold this same goal – to take this responsibility seriously and provide the impacted communities notification at the appropriate juncture. While the intent of HB 624 is broadly aligned with existing policy, its implementation may in fact be duplicative of or in conflict with well-established and expert-driven practice.

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