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Commentary: SC should thirst for its own Safe Drinking Water Act

Millions of people across America, including thousands of South Carolinians, are at serious risk because of dangerous chemicals in our drinking water. This risk is exacerbated by current laws and regulations that don’t adequately protect us.

Toxins such as PFOA and PFOS and such compounds linked to cancer as chromium 6 (see Erin Brockovich chemical) and 1,4 dioxane are currently unregulated. As such, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has neglected its duty to protect our communities here in South Carolina from extremely dangerous levels of contaminants in our water.

Over the past 13 months as the representative for S.C. House District 15, I’ve fought to protect our coast, better educate our children, honor our veterans and help create a safer, more equitable district and state. In recent years, there have been too many concerns of dangerous contaminants in our water systems that have gone unresolved. As the father of a 4-month-old daughter, I have made addressing this public health issue among my top priorities.

We cannot afford to wait for the federal government to save us. We, here at home, have the power to act ourselves and protect the people in our beloved state. I am proud to introduce H.4718, the Safe Drinking Water Act, which will promote and protect clean drinking water for families, homes, schools and businesses by making it the state’s duty to limit harmful toxins in drinking water.

This is part of a national initiative that cracks down on polluters by requiring states to set maximum levels for toxins in drinking water. It is time for South Carolina to be a leader in the Southeast on state-level action and safe water standard-setting to protect our residents.

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H.4718 is supported by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Once we pass this bill, the Department of Health and Environmental Control will be required to establish statewide maximum contaminant levels for our public drinking water. DHEC will limit toxins including PFOS, PFOA, other PFAS compounds, chromium 6 and 1.4 dioxane. Furthermore, DHEC will be responsible for guaranteeing that the contaminant limits we set for our state are sufficient to protect vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and children.

All South Carolinians deserve to live and work in a community where their friends and families are not endangered by contaminated drinking water. Not only will safe drinking water make us more attractive to new businesses, but it also will reduce medical costs by better protecting our loved ones and neighbors from chemicals in the water we all drink. We can expect to see greater educational outcomes as children with access to safe drinking water will be better conditioned to attend school and succeed.

As we begin the 2020 legislative session, we need everyone who cares about protecting our state from the harmful effects of contaminated drinking water to reach out to my fellow colleagues in the General Assembly to support H.4718, the Safe Drinking Water Act.

State Rep. JA Moore, D-North Charleston, represents District 15, which covers parts of Berkeley and Charleston counties.

Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771. Follow him on Twitter @RobertFBehre.

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