Article courtesy of Exchange | December 17, 2014 | Exchange | Shared as educational material
LOS ANGELES — Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). State, local and community representatives joined EPA Regional Administrator at an event held at the San Jose Community and Bea Main Learning Center in Coachella Valley, Calif.
“Every day more than 38 million Californians rely on clean water for cooking, washing, and bathing,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We have made incredible progress in improving water quality and are tackling the remaining challenges so that every American will have access to clean drinking water.”
Since 1997, EPA has provided the California Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) more than $1.5 billion for infrastructure projects throughout the state, much of which was used to help disadvantaged communities. EPA works with the California State Water Resources Control Board and other local and state agencies to assist providers who are working with small drinking water systems to enhance their technical, managerial, and financial capability to reliably provide safe drinking water to communities.
Drinking water in the lower Coachella Valley comes from groundwater wells impacted with high levels of naturally-occurring arsenic and chromium. Treatment technologies can be costly, especially for small systems which face unique challenges in financing upgrades and operating needed infrastructure.
Over the past 17 years, Riverside County has received $61 million from the DWSRF for drinking water infrastructure projects including construction of new water treatment plants, drinking water wells, storage tanks and consolidation projects connecting small drinking water systems with larger water districts. In 2008, EPA provided $900,000 in support of the Torres Martinez Tribe for the construction of an intertie with the Coachella Valley Water District due to high arsenic in the Tribe’s primary and backup well. The project is expected to be completed in late 2015. The new system will service 17 connections for a total population of 53 residents.
As part of the event, Regional Administrator Blumenfeld viewed the water filtration system at the San Jose Community Center which provides drinking water to the center, learning facility and 14 residences. In addition, EPA viewed the point-of-use filtration systems at the Gamez Mobile Home Park. These point-of-use systems are small, individual reverse osmosis filtration units placed under the kitchen sink; each has its own distribution spigot that provides treated drinking water for the home.
More than 290 million people depend on 50,000 community water systems across the country for safe, reliable water every day. The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress on December 16, 1974. Over the past four decades, the SDWA has enabled EPA and partners to supply safe drinking water to more than 93 percent of the population served by community water systems. EPA has drinking water regulations for more than 90 contaminants, including microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic and organic chemicals and radionuclides. Since the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund was created in 1997, more than $25.8 billion have been provided for more than 10,000 drinking water infrastructure projects nationwide, including drinking water treatment systems, pipes for transmission and distribution of water, and storage.