Governor Signs Leyva Bill Protecting Communities From Lead Pipe Dangers

SB 1398 Further Strengthens California’s Lead Exposure Protection Efforts

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Following strong bipartisan support in the Legislature, Governor Jerry Brown today signed an important bill authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will improve the safety of drinking water and protect Californians from toxic lead exposure.

SB 1398 will require public water systems in California to gather inventories of lead pipes in use and then to provide the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) a timeline for their replacement.  Lead is a neurotoxin that is extremely harmful to the human body.  Even very low levels of exposure in children can cause brain and nervous system damage, slow growth and development, speech and hearing impairment and cause behavioral and learning problems.  In adults, lead exposure can cause kidney damage, fertility problems, nerve disorders and other health ailments.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that there is no safe blood lead level.

“SB 1398 will help to inform Californians about where lead pipes still remain and make sure that public water systems develop a plan to completely remove them from use,” Senator Leyva said.  “California has always been at forefront in reducing lead exposure in drinking water and SB 1398 is the next step in continuing that commitment that will help to keep our state’s residents and communities safe.  The dangers from lead exposure are very real, as we have heard in communities throughout the country, such as Flint.  Even here in California, almost 100 public water systems have noted high lead levels since 2012, so I appreciate Governor Brown’s signature of SB 1398 that will ultimately empower and protect residents in our state.”

California has remained a leader in reducing lead exposure in drinking water in recent decades.  In 1986, the use of lead pipes and solder were banned.  By 2010, all plumbing parts and water fixtures sold in California were required to be ‘lead-free.’

During its legislative journey, SB 1398 earned the support of many organizations, including the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators, California Environmental Justice Alliance, California League of Conservation Voters, California Public Interest Group, Center for Food Safety, Community Water Center, Consumer Attorneys of California, East Bay Municipal Utilities District, Environment California, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Environmental Working Group, Food and Water Watch, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacific Water Quality Association, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, Sierra Club California and Water Program Manager.