Ensuring Safe Drinking Water In Los Angeles County’s Small Water Systems

Pritzker Policy Brief No. 11, December 2018

UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 18-44

24 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2018

See all articles by Nathaniel Logar

Nathaniel Logar

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

James E. Salzman

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Cara Horowitz

Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law

Date Written: December 19, 2018

Abstract

California has set laudable goals for ensuring that all residents have access to clean, affordable drinking water. Though the state has taken steps toward achieving these goals, they remain largely aspirational for many communities, particularly those that depend on small water systems in Los Angeles County and throughout California.

This paper addresses challenges faced by small water systems in L.A. County in providing safe and affordable drinking water to customers. These include limited financial and personnel resources as well as reduced access to alternative water sources. Small water systems are particularly vulnerable to groundwater contamination and often struggle with regulatory compliance. As a result, they have a higher percentage of water quality problems and higher rates of noncompliance than larger systems.

Small water systems’ lack of economies of scale often means that consumers pay more for water from small systems than from larger systems. Despite state efforts to provide funding and management assistance for small systems, small water systems often struggle with acquiring grants and loans, especially for operations and maintenance.

This paper provides recommendations for helping small water systems become more resilient. California should pursue: (1) improved data collection and dissemination essential to tracking small water systems; (2) greater use of the Water Board’s current authority to pursue water system consolidations, along with an increase in the scope of that authority and more funding to support consolidation; and (3) greater funding for small water system operations and maintenance, infrastructural improvements, and disaster planning.

Keywords: environmental law and policy, natural resources, drinking water, ground water contamination, Los Angeles

Suggested Citation

Logar, Nathaniel and Salzman, James E. and Horowitz, Cara, Ensuring Safe Drinking Water In Los Angeles County’s Small Water Systems (December 19, 2018). Pritzker Policy Brief No. 11, December 2018; UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 18-44. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3304232

Nathaniel Logar

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

James E. Salzman (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management ( email )

4670 Physical Sciences North
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131
United States

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Cara Horowitz

Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

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