Marc Morano 202-224-5762

Matt Dempsey 202-224-9797


Inhofe Bipartisan Legislation Will Assist Small Water Systems Across The Country Comply With Federal Drinking Water Standards

SBA Announcement

Link to National Rural Water Association Press Release

Link to Small Systems Safe Drinking Water Act of 2007

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, today praised the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) decision to name the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) affordability criteria for small communities as one of their “Top 10 Rules for Review.” SBA said today that streamlining and updating these regulations would help ease the disproportionate federal regulatory burden placed on small communities.  Senator Inhofe has authored bi-partisan legislation (S. 2509), together with Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE.), Chuck Hagel (R-NE.) and Norm Coleman (R-MN.), to address these concerns by assisting water systems in Oklahoma and throughout the country in complying with Federal drinking water standards, and require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to utilize all of its resources provided by the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act amendments (SDWA).

“I am pleased that the Small Business Administration has called attention to EPA’s affordability and small systems variance policies under the Safe Drinking Water Act as one of their Top 10 Rules for Review,” Senator Inhofe said. “EPA’s policy causes increased regulatory burdens on rural communities and small systems in Oklahoma and across the country. I certainly share SBA’s concerns and have worked to address these issues in my bi-partisan bill, the Small Systems Safe Drinking Water Act of 2007. It is my hope that our bill and the Small Business Administration's interest in this policy will correct EPA's policy and assist small systems in coming into compliance with SDWA regulations.”

In addition, the National Rural Water Association (NRWA) today thanked Senator Inhofe and cosponsors of his legislation “for their efforts to help small communities provide safe drinking water and comply with federal water regulations.” Mike Keegan, NRWA Analyst, said of SBA’s announcement today, “Currently, small communities are prohibited from utilizing economical treatment options (the so-called small system variance technologies), under the EPA rules, because EPA adopted a policy that families can afford annual water rates of 2.5% of median household income (MHI) (or approximately $1,200 per household).  EPA’s MHI standard does not consider the quantity, concentration, rural demographics, and financial abilities of low-income families or disadvantaged populations to afford the rule as required by the Agency's Environmental Justice policy [Executive Order 12898].  The current EPA policy threatens public health in low-income rural and small communities by forcing households to pay for increased utilities for EPA compliance that does not improve the safety of their drinking water.”


- Reauthorizes the technical assistance program in the SDWA;

- Creates a pilot program to demonstrate new technologies and approaches for systems of all sizes to comply with the rules;

- Requires the EPA to convene a working group to examine the science behind the rules compared to new developments since their publication;

- Directs the EPA to convene a working group to identify barriers to the use of the following approaches – point of entry treatment, point of use treatment and package plants; and

- Prohibits the EPA from enforcing a Federal standard against a water system unless that water system has received the appropriate amount of money to pay the Federal share of the upgrade.