President Clinton Signs Legislation to Ensure Americans Safe Drinking Water

[EPA press release - August 6, 1996]

President Clinton today signed the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996. Attached are the White House press release on the signing, a fact sheet on the Act and a state-by-state breakdown of potential funds under the Act.

August 6, 1996

The President today will sign into law new legislation to ensure American families have clean, safe tap water. In his remarks, he will emphasize the fundamental importance of providing Americans with confidence that they have safe food and water. He will also highlight the bipartisan support for this bill which allows American families that security.

The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 strengthen and expand the nation's drinking water protections. The new law is based on the Administration's 1993 reform proposal including a drinking water treatment loan fund and protection for drinking water sources. See attached fact sheet.

Today's bill signing builds on Administration actions to protect our families by keeping our food and water supply as safe as possible.

  • Today's bill reflects improvements that the Clinton Administration has called for since September 1993.

  • Last week, the President signed the Food Quality Protection Act, which updated the standards for pesticide use in our food, making our food supply safer.

  • President Clinton by executive order and through administrative actions strengthened and expanded the Community Right to Know law, which gives the public information about toxic releases and requires polluters to disclose that information to the public.

  • Last year the Administration put in place strong new protections to ensure that seafood is safe.

  • Last month, President Clinton announced steps to revamp our meat and poultry inspection system for the first time in 90 years.

The following is the program for the event:

  • EPA Administrator Carol Browner makes remarks.

  • Diana Neidle, safe drinking water activist, makes remarks.

  • The President makes remarks.

Safe Drinking Water Act Will Provide Stronger Protections for Communities

A new safe drinking water law will provide strengthened protections to ensure that American families have clean, safe tap water - improvements that the Clinton Administration has called for since September 1993, when the Administration announced key reform proposals for the Safe Drinking Water Act. The new law is based on provisions in the Administration's 1993 reform proposal, including a drinking water treatment loan fund and protections for drinking water sources. The new law will strengthen and expand the nation's drinking water protections in four important ways.

Giving the American people the right to know about tap water contaminants: The Clinton Administration proposed improvements in consumer information about local tap water in 1995. The Administration actively supported strong requirements now in the new law that will make more information public than ever before, giving Americans access to direct, simple information--sent directly to their homes in water utility bills--about local water quality, contaminants, water sources, and whether the water poses a risk to health.

Strengthening standards to protect public health from the most significant threats to safe drinking water: The new law will strengthen standards that will protect Americans from contaminants that pose the greatest health risks--a principle already embraced in the President's budget. The law sets clear schedules for developing standards for deadly microbial contaminants like cryptosporidium, and calls for considering special populations such as the elderly, children, people with HIV/AIDS, and others when standards are set, to ensure stronger health protection. The law also mandates technical assistance to help water systems nationwide do a better job of delivering safe, clean water.

Providing money that communities need to upgrade drinking water systems: The new law authorizes up to $9.6 billion in loan funds that would go straight to the states to upgrade drinking water treatment systems in communities nationwide through the year 2003; the funds are contingent upon future appropriations actions by the Congress. In 1993, the President for the first time ever proposed establishing a loan fund for safe drinking water. President Clinton has proposed a total of $2.3 billion for this purpose in his budget request since FY94.

Protecting the sources of our drinking water: The Clinton Administration has long called for measures to prevent pollution of drinking water sources before they become contaminated. The Administration has acted to protect many water sources, including the Great Lakes--which provide drinking water for 23 million Americans--and the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which supplies drinking water to 2/3 of all Californians. The new law calls for identifying and assessing potential pollution threats to local sources of water; it also provides states with a flexible, common-sense framework to develop and fund local projects to protect the rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater that serve as the sources of our nation's tap water.

Safe Drinking Water Loans: Potential Funds for States

In 1993, President Clinton proposed the first Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund to help states and communities across America upgrade aging drinking water systems to provide safe, clean water. The new Safe Drinking Water Act establishes that fund by authorizing $9.6 billion through the year 2003, but Congress must still appropriate the necessary monies. Once Congress acts, the following potential amounts would become available to states in FY97, based on the current allocation formula:



























































New Hampshire


New Jersey


New Mexico


New York


North Carolina


North Dakota










Puerto Rico


Rhode Island


South Carolina


South Dakota














West Virginia






Other jurisdictions*


Indian Land







* Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Pacific Trust Territories.