Local governments should have the power to ensure that even private water companies provide safe water to its residents.
By Sean Ashby
It troubles me that in 2016, in a developed country, communities still struggle for the right to clean drinking water.
For years, residents in the East Orange County community of Wedgefield have expressed their concerns about water quality and price to state regulators only to have those complaints fall on deaf ears.
But no more. You deserve action.
In recent months, Orange County has provided water quality testing at various points in Wedgefield. These tests indicated elevated levels of Trihalomethane, a disinfectant byproduct, which exceed state and federal standards.
There is little Orange County can do for residents besides provide water testing and the action needed for the county to ensure clean drinking water is limited by state law. That’s right. Currently, state law preempts or prevents the county from doing anything.
So, as your state legislator, I will make sure the law is changed. Local governments should have the power to ensure that even private water companies provide safe water to its residents.
During a conversation I had with District 5 Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards recently, I proposed the following solution: the Orange County Commission should require monthly random water tests of homes in Wedgefield for the next two years.
If any samples exceed state standards, Pluris, the private utility providing water in Wedgefield, should be required to refund all residents the prior month’s water bill.
This option would force Pluris to comply with Federal and State water regulations and incur a financial penalty. The commissioner did not agree nor disagree with such a policy, only adding that current state law prevents the county from taking any action.
This must be changed. If we ask of our local elected officials to protect their citizens, they should be able to just that. Unfortunately a big, overreaching government in Tallahassee just keeps getting in the way.
Sean Ashby is an East Orange resident, and currently a candidate for the Florida House District 50 which is located in East Orange County and North Brevard.