EPA to California: You're also 'failing' to meet water pollution standards

Pablo Tucker
September 29, 2019

The letter escalates a feud between the Trump administration and California, a predominantly Democratic state that has fought the administration's efforts to weaken environmental regulations.

On Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom listing California's failure 'to protect Californians from degraded water'.

After Trump's comments, Wheeler told members of Congress last week that it was too soon to say if the agency would be citing San Francisco.

"Based on data and reports, the EPA is concerned that California's implementation of federal environmental laws is failing to meet its obligations required under delegated federal programs", Wheeler said.

He referring to a 2014 study from the American Society of Civil Engineers that listed homeless camps among several other origin points for fecal bacteria water.

He called on San Francisco to invest billions of dollars to upgrade its sewage treatment system and stop releasing inadequately treated waste into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific, a practice he said state regulators have long allowed.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says California is falling short on preventing water pollution, largely because of its problem with homelessness in big cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

During a raising money outing to California a week ago, the president depicted the destitute as unsafe to the state: "If these Democrat liberal legislators don't fix it, the national government should come in". He adds that the President is doing nothing to help the state with homelessness.

Homelessness in major cities has become a recent campaign issue for Trump, mentioning it during a Make America Great Again Rally in Ohio.

The Trump organization and California are in a raising battle about a scope of issues, including vagrancy, nature and movement.

Earlier this week, Wheeler sent a letter to the California Air Resources Board, accusing the state of having the worst air quality in the United States.

In the face of these allegations, California officials have pushed back.


After a visit to San Francisco last week, Trump said, "They have to clean it up".

"I'm sick of this president taking swipes at our city for no reason other than politics", San Francisco Mayor London Breed said.

The Trump administration will notify California officials on Thursday that it is "failing" to meet federal water-quality standards, attributing this in part to homelessness, according to the Washington Post. "It's just not a real issue".

Nathan Click, a spokesman for the governor, said: "This is not about clean air, clean water or helping our state with homelessness". This is political retribution against California, plain and simple'.

But homeless people would be an extremely minor source compared to overflows from municipal sewage plants and failing septic systems, said Betsy Southerland, a former director of EPA's Office of Science and Technology.


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