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Resolution Rejecting DEQ Backflow Device Testing Rules Killed in House Environment Committee

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, March 6, 2018

AIC-opposed legislation that would have rejected rules of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality concerning testing of backflow prevention devices was killed in the House Environment, Energy & Technology Committee last week.

AIC extends its appreciation to the city officials who contacted legislators and asked that they oppose House Concurrent Resolution 35

There is another backflow prevention resolution that would reject rules of the Idaho Plumbing Code—House Concurrent Resolution 37—which is currently awaiting hearing in the House Business Committee.  It is not clear if this resolution will advance this session.

Supporters of the resolution argued that annual testing for backflow prevention devices seemed to be overkill and that it would be better for cities and counties to develop their own regulations.

Proponents of the current backflow testing regime noted that such regulations have been in place for decades and have been repeatedly approved by the Idaho Legislature.

Outstanding testimony was provided by Mayor Darin Taylor of Middleton, Emmett Public Works Superintendent Bruce Evans, and Twin Falls Water Superintendent Rob Bohling.

“The single most important thing we do as cities is provide safe, clean drinking water,” Mayor Taylor said in his remarks to the committee.

“There will be costs if we don’t have a state backflow testing program,” said Bruce Evans, testifying on behalf of the City of Emmett and the Idaho Rural Water Association.   “We will have increased water sampling costs, and higher costs for continuous disinfection.  Each city would have to develop, adopt and implement its own backflow testing program, which would add to the unnecessary costs,” Evans said. 

Two committee members—Rep. Don Cheatham of Post Falls and Rep.  Jeff Thompson of Idaho Falls—had compelling personal stories about being sick after drinking contaminated water.  “I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,” said Cheatham.

A motion by Rep. Cheatham to kill the resolution passed by a vote of 10-6-2.  

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