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Delivering safe drinking water is job one for California’s public water agencies. It is troubling to read that some small communities in the Central Valley and Salinas Valley are struggling to secure safe and sustainable drinking water due to contamination problems with local groundwater basins.
While solutions to the situation are needed, it is critical that we not create a new set of problems in the process that will have negative effects on communities around the state. One measure moving through the Legislature (AB 145, Perea) is well-intended, but it misses the mark. Instead of focusing on improving the way funds are disbursed for drinking water projects, the bill seeks to move the state’s entire drinking water regulatory program — covering both groundwater and the surface water EID delivers — to an agency already overburdened with a full suite of complicated issues.
Moving the drinking water program out of the Department of Public Health to the State Water Resources Control Board would undermine the program’s public health focus just for the sake of “doing something.” We commend our local legislators, Senator Ted Gaines and Assembly members Beth Gaines and Frank Bigelow, for their recent votes against this flawed proposal.
EID and other water agencies are advocating for a better solution. Moving administration of the drinking water State Revolving Fund to the State Board — while leaving the rest of the regulatory program at the Department of Public Health, as other states have done — is a more effective way to improve how these critical funds are managed and distributed.
Let’s avoid unnecessary disruption to this important program and move forward with solutions that can work.
EID General Manager