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California violated Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA says

April 23, 2013
drinking water
The state has received more than $1.5 billion over the past 15 years to improve drinking water systems, but $455 million has not yet been spent.

The state of California's Department of Public Health has violated the Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to spend a large portion of the federal money provided through the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, according to a noncompliance notice issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The state has received more than $1.5 billion over the past 15 years to improve drinking water systems, but $455 million has not yet been spent.

"States are required to make timely loans or grants using all available drinking water funds to eligible water systems for necessary projects, and California has failed to meet this standard," Jared Blumenfeld, EPA regional administrator, wrote in a letter to California Department of Public Health Director Ron Chapman.

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Blumenfeld also pointed out that the state has issued loans or grants to many projects that are not "shovel ready," resulting in funds not being paid out.

According to EPA estimates, California needs $39 billion in capital improvements through 2026 for water systems to continue to provide safe drinking water to the public.

"Given this tremendous need, it is crucial that California fully utilize the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund," Blumenfeld wrote.

The noncompliance notice requires the California Department of Public Health to remedy the areas of non-compliance and submit a plan to the EPA within 60 days.