Safe Drinking Water

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

The Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program (SDWRPP) was launched in November of 2016 at the Northeast-Midwest Institute and builds on the Institute’s long-standing engagement in water quality research, policy analysis, and education and outreach relating to water quality and safe drinking water by expanding its capabilities to the region more broadly. With a multiphase approach, the program works toward solving imminent, critical issues regarding revision of the Lead and Copper Rule while also building a regional and national awareness of the need for solving drinking water issues. Through the development of scientific, non-partisan, and independent research and policy analysis, the program seeks to use objective data findings to inform and provide technical assistance and education to policy-makers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support local and regional drinking water policy improvements.

The Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program will:

  • Develop science and policy research that addresses issues surrounding lead in drinking water to be presented to members of Congress and other regional decision-makers to improve drinking water policy.
  • Identify and compile critical information gaps, including appropriate water quality sampling, consumer education, and implementation issues to inform regulatory revisions and policy updates to increase public health protection under the Lead and Copper Rule and related legislation.
  • Develop and implement a program for minimizing lead in drinking water in Detroit, Michigan that will inform policy recommendations for the entire region and, more specifically, proactively address lead in drinking water in large older cities.
  • Bring national awareness to safe drinking water needs as well as potential solutions, as part of a long-term strategy to address local and NEMW regional concerns.

RESEARCH PRIORITIES

In its first year, the SDWRPP is focusing on identifying and filling critical information gaps related to lead in drinking water, including appropriate water quality sampling, consumer education, and implementation issues. This work informs improved policy and regulation to increase public health protection in the Lead and Copper Rule and related legislation. The Northeast-Midwest Institute is building on this work to expand its relationships, connections, and recognition as it develops the Program longer-term to build a Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Center that examines a more complete scope of drinking water issues.

Another research priority of the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program is the development and implementation of a model program for minimizing lead in drinking water in Detroit, Michigan. The Program is assessing the presence of lead in drinking water throughout the City of Detroit and developing short- and long-term strategies for minimizing exposure to lead through drinking water. These strategies include improving public notice and public education regarding lead in drinking water, updating and maintaining service line records, and designing a lead service line replacement program. While providing technical assistance to the City of Detroit, the Program is collecting information that informs more broadly policy and implementation needs to improve public health protection under the Lead and Copper Rule. The work in Detroit also provides a model for proactively addressing lead in drinking water in large older cities.

Research and policy analysis will include:

  • Targeted scientific and policy research papers examining ongoing technical and policy issues related to the Lead and Copper Rule such as appropriate water quality sampling, consumer education, funding and implementation issues.
  • Research to identify effective implementation strategies that improve the public health protection and enforceability of the revised Lead and Copper Rule.
  • Policy analysis in which regulations and legislation are examined and evaluated to identify their effectiveness for ensuring safe drinking water.
  • Research on treatment, sampling, recordkeeping, and public education strategies for minimizing exposure to lead in drinking water and improving standard procedures to proactively protect public health.

In the future, the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program will expand its scope to address safe drinking water more broadly, and coupled with the engagement of a group of funders, will build a Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Center. The Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program will approach safe drinking water policy as the essential foundation of an effective and sustainable integrated water resource management paradigm.


ACHIEVEMENTS AND IMPACTS

Briefings, Updates, and Webinars

The SDWRPP partners with fellow advocacy groups, government agencies and task forces, and stakeholder organizations to make these briefings comprehensive and useful to all perspectives. SDWRPP uses NEMWI’s vast network of congressional contacts to secure reservations of Capitol Hill briefing rooms in order to make the briefings convenient and accessible to congressional staff looking to learn more about safe drinking water issues and connect with SDWRPP’s network of experts.

Recent Policy Analysis

Media Coverage

City of Detroit Work


FUNDERS

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

The SDWRPP is proud to be supported by The Mott Foundation, and works towards its core values of securing clean, sustainable water for people of the Great Lakes basin; as well as advancing the basin’s resilience against the impacts of climate change. Working in conjunction with the NEMWI’s Great Lakes Washington Program, the SDWRPP also works to advance The Mott Foundation’s goal of tackling the Flint Water Crisis and protecting other populations living in areas of aging water infrastructure.


STAFF

Matt McKenna – GLWP Director

Matthew McKenna is the Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.  In his capacity, Matthew focuses on policy education and outreach on issues regarding the health of the Great Lakes and their surrounding communities.  He works closely with Congressional offices and administrative agencies on Great Lakes protection and restoration initiatives that are aimed at providing economic sustainability throughout the region.

Before coming to the Northeast-Midwest Institute, Matthew served as a Government Policy Specialist in the government relations shop of a large, Midwest-based law firm, where he focused on legislative and regulatory analysis and Congressional and administrative outreach.  He also served as a legislative aide in the New York Congressional delegation.

Matthew received a Bachelor of Arts degree from The George Washington University, where he majored in Political Science and minored in Creative Writing.

He can be reached at mmckenna@nemw.org or at 202-464-4012

Joe Vukovich – Senior Policy Analyst

Joe Vukovich provides research and policy analysis on matters of water and environmental policy for the Institute’s Mississippi River Basin Program. He also serves as a point of contact for Capitol Hill offices and a resource for the Institute’s policy education initiatives.

Joe worked as a Legislative Fellow for Congressmen Matt Cartwright and Jim McDermott before joining the Northeast Midwest Institute. He also has federal agency experience, having served in internships at the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission during his graduate-level studies.

Joe holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Carnegie Mellon University, 2012, and Juris Doctor and Master of Public Policy degrees from Georgetown University, 2016. At Georgetown he served on the Georgetown Environmental Law Review and was a Public Interest Fellow.

He can be reached at jvukovich@nemw.org or 202-464-4019