Microplastics

As stated in Health and Safety Code section 116350 et seq., California Safe Drinking Water Act (Act) requires the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to administer provisions related to drinking water to protect public health. The Act allows the State Water Board to conduct research, studies, and demonstration programs to ensure provision of a dependable, safe supply of drinking water, which may include improving methods to identify and measure the existence of contaminants in drinking water and to identify the source of the contaminants. The Act also grants the State Water Board the authority to implement regulations that may include monitoring of contaminants, and requirements for notifying the public of the quality of the water delivered to customers.

On September 28, 2018, Senate Bill No. 1422 was filed with the Secretary of State , adding section 116376 to the Health and Safety Code, and requiring the State Water Board to adopt a definition of microplastics in drinking water on or before July 1, 2020, and on or before July 1, 2021, to adopt a standard methodology to be used in the testing of drinking water for microplastics and requirements for four years of testing and reporting of microplastics in drinking water, including public disclosure of those results.

Proposed Action

Consistent with Health and Safety Code section 116376 and within its authority, the State Water Board is reviewing existing research and studies to accomplish the following tasks:

  • On or before July 1, 2020: Adopt a definition of microplastics in drinking water;
  • On or before July 1, 2021:
    • Adopt a standard methodology for testing of microplastics in drinking water;
    • Adopt requirements for four years of testing and reporting of microplastics in drinking water, including public disclosure of those results;
    • Consider issuing quantitative guidelines (e.g., notification level) to aid consumer interpretations of the testing results, if appropriate;
    • Accredit qualified laboratories in California to analyze microplastics in drinking water.

Health and Safety Code section 116376 allows the State Water Board to implement these tasks through the adoption of a Policy Handbook that is not subject to the Administrative Regulations and Rulemaking requirements of Government Code section 11340 et seq.

Contact Information

Melissa Hall, P.E.
Senior Water Resource Control Engineer
(916) 323-0373
Melissa.Hall@waterboards.ca.gov

Hélène Baribeau, Ph.D., P.E.
Water Resource Control Engineer
(916) 323-0375
Helene.Baribeau@waterboards.ca.gov