Governor Signs bill to Improve Transparency Within Drinking Water Program

Wednesday, September 30, 2020
SACRAMENTO – California has an important yet complex regulatory system for ensuring Californians receive clean drinking water. Governor Newsom signed AB 2560 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) that will provide greater transparency to the process the state uses when identifying certain levels of contaminants found in drinking water.
 
AB 2560 will require the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) to post on its website, and distribute electronically, proposed notification levels (NLs) and response levels (RLs) for contaminants in drinking water.  Under current law there is a very clear and transparent process for the establishment of a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for contaminants in drinking water. However, there is not a clear and transparent process for the establishment of NL's and RL's, which are not set by the Water Board, but administratively set by the Division of Drinking Water (DDW).  While NLs and RLs are not regulatory standards, they provide important information about contaminants to public water systems and their customers.  At the same time, there are significant actions imposed upon public water systems with the issuance of a NL or RL. 
 
"As Chair of the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee for the past four years, I have worked closely with the Water Board.  I appreciate and respect the Water Board's transparency and their ability to tackle difficult issues while at the same time listening to all stakeholders.  However, the existing process for a NL and RL is a remnant of when the drinking water program was under the California Department of Public Health and I see AB 2560 as updating the process for a NL and RL and making this process more consistent with how the State Water Board operates", explained Dr. Quirk.
 
"We are committed to providing safe, reliable drinking water and we applaud Assemblymember Quirk’s leadership on AB 2560, a bill that creates a transparent public notification procedure for establishing drinking water standards," stated OCWD Board President, Vicente Sarmiento. "The proposed process would allow public water systems time to take measures to adequately plan and prepare for the implementation of new standards."
"This bill was a collaborative effort and had support from water agencies as well as environmental organizations", concluded Assemblymember Quirk.
 
AB 2560 will go into effect on January 1, 2021.