CA Gets a Second Bite at the Federal Funding Apple; Will They Take It?

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California has another opportunity to protect residents from the dangers of lead in drinking water, and it is imperative that the state take advantage of it. This month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that states can submit a one-time update to their lead service line questionnaire. This questionnaire is used to determine how much federal funding states will receive from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the state’s previous incomplete response is why California has lost out on hundreds of millions in federal funding for lead service line replacements so far.

EPA is giving states until the end of November to update estimates of lead sources in their drinking water systems. Twenty-three groups recently wrote to the State Water Resources Control Board urging them to take this opportunity to inventory all the potential sources of lead contamination, including lead pipes, lead connectors, and galvanized pipes. A complete inventory of these items, reported to EPA, would help the state access hundreds of millions of dollars they will otherwise lose out on.

This federal funding is unprecedented and the state’s lackadaisical approach to taking advantage of it—identifying all potential sources of lead in our drinking water—is baffling at best. Particularly in light of recent testing that revealed shocking levels of lead in the drinking water of child care centers, this failure to identify sources of lead contamination is particularly disturbing. This eleventh hour opportunity to take advantage of funds provided by the federal government gives California yet another chance to properly identify and address the grave problem of lead-contaminated drinking water, and it would be inexcusable not to take it.

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