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Safe Drinking Water Act Overview Environmental Law 2 Spring 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "Safe Drinking Water Act Overview Environmental Law 2 Spring 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 Safe Drinking Water Act Overview Environmental Law 2 Spring 2005

2 Mapping the Act Major program areas--drinking water standard- setting Regulatory instruments-- command-and- control with disclosure

3 Key Distinctions 1: Large vs. small systems Cost-benefit vs. other ways of dealing with cost MCLGs vs MCLs

4 Underlying cost problems Cost increases supralinear, benefits gains sublinear Economies of scale (e.g., GAC) Time spread--costs are now, benefits are (much) later Cost increases are lumpy (e.g., GAC filtration) SDWA drives Superfund cleanups (MCLGs)

5 Standard-Setting Risk Assessment-- MCLGs NOAEL + adequate margin of safety “What would it be if we didn’t have to worry about cost?” Risk Management-- MCLs Feasibility Analysis-- “Best available technology taking cost into consideration” Originally gave variances and exceptions for small systems

6 The Escalation of CBA Trihalomethanes (late ’70s) Student publication: EPA should mandate high-cost treatment White House CWPS— CBA indicates small system deregulation EPA— CBA marginal benefit analysis justifies the rule w/ small system exceptions

7 EPA Policy: Zero MCLG for Known or Probable Carcinogens Group A--Known Human Carcinogen Group B1--Probable human carcinogen, limited human epi data Group B2--Probable human carcinogen; inadequate human, adequate animal data Group C--Possible carcinogen--no human and limited animal data Group D--Unclassifiable Group E--No evidence of carcinogenicity, tests are adequate

8 Is cancer really a no-threshold toxin? Bruce Ames says “Maybe not” International Fabricare Institute, 972 F.2d 384 (1992)

9 EPA Policy: GAC Filtration Is a “Feasible” Technology for Synthetic Organic Chemicals Pentachlorphenol example: In a system serving 62,000 people, save 1 life in 1,650 years at a cost of $860m In a system serving 250 people, save one life in 500,000 years, at a cost of $5.4 billion

10 Political imperatives Environmental community opposes CBA, exemptions for small systems Small systems could not afford GAC filtration, even if the federal government gave them the plants Proliferating MCLs make testing and reporting costly, difficult Unfunded mandates and small business impacts make regulation difficult Health scares focus public attention on drinking water

11 A Great Lakes problem: if we limit diversions, we may increase health risks

12 A general problem: How do you do a cost-benefit analysis for something that isn’t dose-dependent (the hormone mimics)

13 Another general problem: How do you deal with especially sensitive populations? EPA must consider: “The effects of the contaminant on the general population and on groups within the general populations such as infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, individuals with a history of serious illness, or other subpopulations that are identified as likely to be at greater risk of adverse health effects due to exposure to contaminants in drinking water than the general population.”

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