The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been slow to force states to collect and report required data on lead levels in drinking water and has little information on schools and child-care facilities, according to a recently released government study.
The Government Accountability Office study found that the EPA's database lacks some information on more than 70 percent of the nation's water systems. In addition to broadly improving data collection and communication among local, state and federal agencies, it recommended more information be collected on the water in schools and child-care facilities, few of which test for lead, according to the findings.
Benjamin H. Grumbles, who oversees the EPA's Office of Water, said through a spokeswoman Wednesday that the federal Lead and Copper Rule has been effective in keeping lead levels below federal limits in 96 percent of the nation's large water systems.
It's a nice statistic, but 96% of how many water systems? How can we know what's safe and what's not, if we don't have sufficient data?
Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-VT), one of three congressmen to request the GAO study, said the EPA needed to continue to improve its oversight and implementation.
"This GAO report confirms that there are large holes in federal safe drinking water regulations, Jeffords said in a written statement. "The EPA has failed to act in a meaningful way to plug these gaps, even after the drinking water in the nation's capital was 'off-limits' for months."
Jeffords has offered legislation that would create stricter oversight, but the legislation has failed to gain traction in the Republican-led Congress.
This item first appeared at JABBS