In a bipartisan effort to secure safer drinking water for all households, Maine’s legislature passed Representative Karen Vachon’s bill, An Act to Ensure Safe Drinking Water for Families in Maine (LD 454), last year. LD 454 plays a vital role in filling the gap in safe drinking water laws by increasing testing and treatment of private, residential drinking water wells, which have been previously exempt from state and federal safe drinking water laws. The Institute has added this bill along with all of the supporting documents and data to the Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook, which is a toolkit for any person looking to pass environmental laws. So far 38 bill files for those corresponding 38 environmental bills that have been passed around the country are available to the public on the website free of charge.
Specifically, this bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to:
- develop recommendations for the testing of a set of contaminants that will be periodically tested for in private wells
- conduct educational outreach on the health effects of contaminants and why testing is important
- requires the Maine Water Well Commission to also develop educational materials focused on the importance of testing for contaminants to give to residents when a residential private well is first drilled or deepened
- establishes a Private Well Safe Drinking Water Fund to support this outreach and increase testing rates. The Fund is financed through a (maximum $10) fee for testing performed by the Department’s lab and prioritizes funding for community-based programs that support underserved populations
LD 454 acts as a strong model of ways state laws can enhance public health.