EPA backtracks on water rule provision for ‘misleading’ language

By Miranda Willson | 05/17/2024 01:23 PM EDT

The condition barring “false and misleading” statements in water reports garnered pushback from utilities.

Water flows from a water fountain.

A new EPA rule aims to improve public access data on contaminants in drinking water. AP

The Biden administration has removed a provision from a new drinking water regulation that would have barred utilities from including “false or misleading” statements in reports they send to customers.

Finalized this week, the new rule is geared toward improving public trust in drinking water and making complex data about contaminants and water quality more accessible to consumers. It targets utilities’ annual water quality reports, which critics say often lack important context for consumers to determine whether their water is safe to drink.

While the final rule is similar in many respects to the proposed one, EPA’s proposal last year included an explicit prohibition on false or misleading information in water quality reports. After receiving pushback from water utilities and local governments on that language, EPA reversed course.


“After consideration of the comments on this issue, the EPA agrees that a provision explicitly prohibiting false or misleading statements could have a chilling effect on water systems in preparing their reports,” the agency said in its final rule.