dry irrigation canal near farmland

Pierce on Failing Water Systems in California

Gregory Pierce, co-director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, spoke with Courthouse News about a new state audit that found that nearly 1 million Californians lack access to safe water. The audit classified 418 local water systems as “failing,” meaning their water supply exceeds the maximum allowable contaminant levels for safe drinking water. This could expose customers to a range of health dangers, including an increased risk of cancer as well as liver and kidney problems. Complicating efforts to improve water quality is the state’s decentralized patchwork of local agencies composed of roughly 7,400 “drinking water systems,” some private, some public. “Every state has way too many drinking water systems, compared to other utilities,” said Pierce, who leads the UCLA Human Right to Water Solutions Lab. He said the state water board has been trying to consolidate these systems to improve accountability and performance, but “it’s slow going. It takes a long time. And it’s political.”


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