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Janet Cruz, Ben Diamond file safe drinking water bill to limit contaminants

The bill would play off of other states with strict drinking water standards.

Sen. Janet Cruz and Rep. Ben Diamond, both Tampa Bay area Democrats, filed legislation to strengthen the state’s drinking water standards.

The identical bills (HB 1427 and SB 1720) would require the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to establish maximum contamination levels for a variety of contaminants and chemicals.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every resident in our state has access to safe, clean drinking water,” Diamond said. “This bill requires the establishment of appropriate standards for potentially harmful contaminants. Florida should follow other states that have updated their drinking water standards for substances that have been linked to cancer and other serious health issues.”

The Florida Safe Drinking Water Act would also direct the FDEP to consider limits on other pollutants in drinking water systems when other states have set limits or issued guidance on a given pollutant. The bills specify that contaminant limits must be sufficient to protect vulnerable populations, including pregnant and nursing mothers, infants, children, and financially disadvantaged small communities.

“We can’t sit around hoping the EPA will protect us from toxic [contaminants] in our drinking water,” said Mae Wu, Senior Director of Health and Food at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They have refused to regulate it for decades, which is one reason we find PFAS chemicals everywhere we look. But state officials can begin taking steps to rid our homes and communities of these forever chemicals beginning today.”

PFAS is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and have been linked to greater risk of developing certain cancers.

“In order to protect the health and safety of all Floridians, I believe we must adopt more rigorous standards for our drinking water,” Diamond said. “This legislation will modernize our laws and help prevent carcinogens and other toxic chemicals from entering our water supply.”

Diamond filed his bill Monday. Cruz filed hers last week.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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