by Nina Rydalch
Idaho Public Radio State Capitol Bureau
UI McClure Center
An Idaho House panel voted Wednesday against rejecting Public Drinking Water Systems rules that require annual inspections of backflow prevention assemblies.
“Water departments around the state … want to say ‘we’ve got to protect our water. And I don’t want us to not protect our water,” said Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls. “But there has to be a risk-reward trade off to some of the actions that they’re expecting to be done. And I’m saying that the risk reward of this is so minimal.”
Backflow prevention assemblies are used to prevent pollution and contamination of water systems due to backflow.
Nearly all who testified on HCR 35 before the committee were opposed to it. Darin Taylor, the mayor of Middleton, said ensuring high water quality in the city system affects everyone, not just those who must have their backflow prevention assemblies inspected.
“Next to police work, and maybe before police work, the single most important thing that we do as cities is provide clean, safe drinking water,” Taylor said. “It’s the holy grail of the city and the city systems.”
Twin Falls Water Superintendent Robert Bohling said testing the water and the systems is important for the safety of Idaho residents.
“I don’t want another Flint, Michigan in Twin Falls,” Bohling said.
Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, who made a motion to give the bill a do-pass recommendation, said if the rule were to be rejected, many cities would still require testing on a local level, and rejecting the rule would merely eliminate government overreach.
Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said the rule is not a case of government overreach.
“We can’t have a situation where drinking water in Boise is OK, but in Weiser you may get cholera,” Rubel said. “We just can’t have that. We need to have a consistent, safe source of water across our state, which is what our rule currently provides.”
The vote by the House Environment, Energy & Technology Committee was 10-6 against the bill.
February 28, 2018