By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

water access lidWhile recent wildfires in California have destroyed land and structures, and killed residents, their threat to water districts has received less attention but is just as devastating.

Water districts can be held liable for fire damages because the fire can incapacitate pumps needed to push water to fire hydrants. By California law, public service providers, including drinking water suppliers, can be held liable for property damage.

“Public drinking water suppliers’ financial stability is threatened if they are saddled with the cost of damage caused by fires they don’t start,” writes Marc Marcantonio in CALmatters. “And that could put the safety of our drinking water at risk.” Marcantonio is the Yorba Linda Water District’s general manager. The district was held liable for damages following the 2008 Freeway Complex Fire in Santa Ana Canyon in Orange County.

Marcantanio also notes that this legal liability could bankrupt water districts and prevent them from upgrading water infrastructure.

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