Will Gov. Brown have better luck on drinking water cleanup?

Posted by Mark Grossi on March 17, 2014 

Maria Elena Avila Orozco Martinez looks at a glass of water from her tap in rural Tulare County. Her family no longer use water straight from the tap. They use filtered water from another tap.

JOHN WALKER — Fresno Bee Staff Photo Buy Photo

The Drinking Water Program -- so important to cleaning up tap water in the San Joaquin Valley -- appears poised to move out of the state's health department to the state's water-regulation agency in July. Or is it?

A task force proposed a transition strategy, and you can check it out. This is part of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget. So the Legislature still needs to agree. But the legislative route didn't work at all last year.

Assembly Bill 145 from Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, would have made this change happen, but it died quietly in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Perea had introduced the bill after many frustrating funding delays for small-town water fixes in the Valley.

Will the governor's attempt fail, too? We'll have to wait and see.

The Bee's 2011 drinking water series found what activists and rural town Valley residents considered the state health department a foot-dragging bureaucracy.

Towns such as Seville in Tulare County and Lanare in Fresno County were dealing with a maze of technicalities to get funding.

Now after public scrutiny by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the process seems a little better now, but not much, activists have told me.

They tell me they support the governor's proposal to move the Drinking Water Program.

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