Governor Vetoes Bill Aimed at Improving Transparency Within Drinking Water Program

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – California has an important yet complex regulatory system for ensuring Californians receive clean drinking water. Governor Newsom vetoed AB 2560 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) that would have provided greater transparency to the process the state uses when identifying certain levels of contaminants found in drinking water.

"I am very disappointed that the Governor choose to veto this bill. I understand that he is likely putting his faith into the staff at the State Water Board, and I too believe those staff.  However, regardless of how good the staff is, if the statute that underlies their work is insufficient then we may not get the results our state deserves", stated Assemblymember Quirk.

AB 2560 would have required 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.

"It is unfortunate the Governor vetoed AB 2560. We strongly believe this bill is needed to ensure transparency in the development of critical steps in protecting California’s drinking water", stated Danielle Blacet-Hyden, Deputy Executive Director, California Municipal Utilities Association.

"This bill was a collaborative effort and had support from water agencies as well as environmental organizations. We will continue our discussions with the Administration and works towards a better outcome in the future", concluded Assemblymember Quirk.