Senator Portantino’s Water Protection Bill Urging Study of Chemical Health Risks Passes Senate Floor
Senate Bill 230, an environmental protection measure authored by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) to improve drinking water by investigating Constituents of Emerging Concern (CECs), passed the Senate floor.
“SB 230 is designed to further consumer protection by helping the State Water Board gather information to understand the public health risk of these CECs in drinking water,” stated Senator Portantino. “This information would help the State Water Board make informed, science-based decisions about how to implement best practices and prioritization strategies to regulate them.”
Constituents of Emerging Concern, as they are known, are a diverse group of synthetic or naturally occurring chemicals or microorganisms that are not currently regulated in drinking water. Scientists have discovered new ways to detect CECs in very small amounts. Given this capability, scientists will continue to detect new, unregulated CECs that could include pharmaceuticals, personal care products, or industrial chemicals in trace amounts.
Senate Bill 230 builds on Senator Portantino’s strong record of protecting our water supply. Previously, he authored legislation to require the study of micro plastics in drinking water and to task the Ocean Protection Counsel to develop strategies to preserve and protect our precious ocean resources. SB 230 would require the State Water Board to establish and maintain a dedicated program for CECs to proactively improve the understanding of their occurrence and public health significance in drinking water sources. The State Board would create a Science Advisory Panel for a period of three years to gather and develop information for the program and provide a report to the Legislature on the work of the panel by June 1, 2026. The bill would require the program to provide opportunities for public participation through periodic stakeholder meetings and workshops. After five years, the state board would decide whether to sunset or continue the program.
“We thank Senator Portantino for his leadership on advancing this important legislation through the Senate,” Metropolitan Water District General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said. “As public concern grows about the potential health risks of CECs in drinking water, we need a statewide program that will use science and data to understand their occurrence in drinking water, and their potential health consequences. This program will do just that to help determine which CECs require immediate action.”
SB 230 would also establish in the State Treasury the CEC Action Fund, which upon appropriation would be administered by the State Water Board. Monies in the fund could be used to establish and maintain the panel, collect occurrence data, develop standardized analytical methods to detect CECs, and support research to fill information gaps. In addition, the bill authorizes the Board, upon appropriation to provide financial assistance to certain public water systems upon a showing that the costs of testing drinking water in compliance with this act would impose a financial hardship, with eligibility preference given to public water systems serving fewer than 10,000 individuals.