SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The California State Auditor released a scathing report saying the State Water Board was dragging its feet when it came to ensuring Californians had safe drinking water. 

“Nearly a million Californians face possible long-term, negative health outcomes,” the report says.

According to the audit, there are over 370 water systems that are not meeting quality standards and have been giving residents unsafe drinking water since December 2021. Of those, almost 70% of them are in disadvantaged communities. 

The report states those communities are often in need of significant financial help. 

A little under half of those water systems have not been meeting standards for the last five years, at least. And over 200 have been failing for at least three years.

According to the report, there are hundreds more that could fail, which could affect another million Californians. 

The report places the responsibility for the failing water systems on the State Water Board. 

“The State Water Board has demonstrated a lack of urgency to provide needed assistance to failing water systems,” the report states. 

The report said the State Water Board failed to prioritize funding applications by water systems, which would have been money used for improving water quality.

“Over the past five years, the average length of time for water systems to complete their applications and receive funding nearly doubled, from 17 months to 33 months,” the report says.

The State Water Board reportedly also did not create performance goals or metrics for its application process. 

The report cites a change in state law that changed the State Water Board’s focus onto “smaller, potentially less sophisticated, water systems,” and according to the water board, that change affected its application processing times. 

But the audit says other factors such as lack of follow-up and communication with those submitting applications also contributed.

“Although the State Water Board disagreed with certain report conclusions, it generally agreed with our recommendations and stated it would work to implement them,” the report says. 

To read the report and the recommendations, click or tap here.

In total, California has about 7,400 water systems.