For those of you new to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and the perchlorate issue, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) had previously concluded in a preliminary regulatory determination for perchlorate a national primary drinking water regulation (NPDWR) for perchlorate would not present “a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems.” Click here for the prior USEPA preliminary determination for perchlorate.
Perchlorate has been found to occur in very few drinking water systems. Some states have more affected water systems than others. Although it is an important environmental issue, especially in some states like California, it simply has not been found to be a wdiespread national issue for drinking water. This is the type of issue that the states could address with health advisory guidance from USEPA.
Having USEPA spend money to develop regulations for drinking water contaminants that are not of national significance is wasteful of both time and money. This is something the 1996 SDWA amendments specifically intended to avoid. It is like spending $1,000,000’s on a book to put on the shelf that you and others have no need to read….it looks good on the shelf (e.g., the MCL list) but has very little or no practical benefit.
The decision to regulate perchlorate nationally appears politically driven out of a concern for the health of those people potentially affected. A decision to not regulate perchlorate on a national basis does not mean those people potentially affected are unprotected. Under the state primacy system, the states have the responsibility to act to address such contaminants if necessary, and under federalism each state can address the issue differently. In this way we learn first from various state experiences before imposing a new regulation on everyone in the US.