Pennsylvania eyes new fees to add drinking-water inspectors

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration says it wants to impose new fees on public water utilities to pay for more inspectors and resolve a federal official’s warning it isn’t adequately enforcing safe drinking water standards.

Wolf’s Department of Environmental Protection says it hopes to start the rulemaking process in May and begin hiring more inspectors in September 2018. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had no immediate comment Wednesday.

The DEP says the $7.5 million in new fees would likely be passed onto Pennsylvania’s 10.7 million water customers. Drinking-water inspectors dropped from 81 in 2009 to 61 currently amid years of cuts to DEP’s budget. They inspect 8,500 public water systems.

The EPA says inadequate staffing caused the number of unaddressed Safe Drinking Water Act violations in Pennsylvania to nearly double over five years.

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