Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) called on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify long-term solutions to the arsenic-contaminated drinking water in mobile home parks and communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley. In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, Dr. Ruiz called the current situation “simply unacceptable” and urged the agency to help expedite consolidation projects to protect communities with contaminated drinking water.
“There is no clearer environmental injustice than vulnerable children in our communities having to drink arsenic-contaminated water that harms their development and ability to learn,” Dr. Ruiz wrote. “As a physician, I have seen the effects contaminants like arsenic have on children’s development… All available tools must be used to significantly scale and speed up our investigation and assessment; our short-term response where contamination is found; and our implementation of a long-term solution.”
Full text of the letter can be found here.
Over the past three years, the EPA has identified at least eight mobile home parks and other communities in California’s 36th Congressional District with dangerous arsenic levels in their water systems. In 2019, Dr. Ruiz called for the EPA to conduct comprehensive testing of water systems to determine whether other communities were exposed to contaminated water.
Recently, Dr. Ruiz secured $2.7 million in federal funding to address this issue and to invest in a new water transmission line that will bring water access to the East Valley. This transmission system will eventually allow for the consolidation of thirteen rural community water systems that primarily serve mobile home parks that provide housing for farmworkers.
Dr. Ruiz is continuing to explore additional funding opportunities at federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address the contaminated drinking water crisis in the East Valley.