After years of delays and confusion over state funding to fix dirty drinking water, a lawmaker says it’s time to make this easier for rural San Joaquin Valley towns.
Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, introduced Assembly Bill 145 Friday, aimed at having the State Water Resources Control Board take over. It’s a streamlining move, Perea says. The state water board already is a water policing agency.
The state water board would replace the California Department of Public Health, a $3 billion bureaucracy tasked with 150 different functions handling everything from hospital licensing to regulating the movement of radioactive material.
The state public health agency was the biggest roadblock to getting funds, according to town leaders and many others involved in the process.
The Fresno Bee’s 2011 stories detailed several cities that have been trying for years to get funding from the public health department for drinking water cleanup. In such towns as Seville in Tulare County, drinking bottled water is a way of life.
Nitrates from fertilizers, animal waste and septic systems are the most common problems in the water.
“Some towns have been able to get funding, but some have been lost in the bureaucratic stream,” said Perea, who has expressed frustration about the public health department’s efforts.