Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease Statement on Gov. Newsom Veto of SB 1144

Washington, D.C. – The Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease issued the following statement on Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of SB 1144:

“We applaud Governor Newsom’s decision to veto SB 1144. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the waterborne bacteria, legionella, and as such, must be addressed systemically as a water quality issue, beginning at the root cause- our water source and public water distribution system.  Senate Bill 1144 fails to do so.  Instead, it takes a very limited and narrow approach focused only on certain buildings and water-using equipment.  This completely ignores the individual, sporadic cases, which comprise 96 percent of all Legionnaires’ disease cases, according to the CDC.”

“In his veto message, Governor Newsom stated, ‘Improving the quality of drinking water in our state’s buildings and schools is a priority we share. California’s Safe Drinking Water Act tasks the State Water Board with ensuring that public water systems provide uncontaminated, quality, potable water to consumers.’’

“Accordingly, we urge California officials to go back to the drawing board and pass a policy to address

Legionnaires’ disease as a water source and quality issue first and foremost. This means ensuring that our drinking/potable water is properly treated, disinfected, monitored, and managed against legionella bacteria before it enters our homes and facilities for daily uses that create human exposure. Only then can we be confident that Californians are protected against Legionnaires’ disease- which those who are immunocompromised, have respiratory illness, and the elderly are at greatest risk.”

“The approach taken in SB 1144 is the equivalent of trying to use a bucket to solve the problem of a leaky roof. A bucket can stop water from getting on the floor, but it does nothing to solve the problem of why the water is getting into one’s home in the first place.”

“The truth is SB 1144 would have done little to prevent the spread of Legionnaires disease, but if enacted would add great cost to taxpayers as Governor Newsom has rightfully recognized. SB1144 was estimated to cost California taxpayers more than $300 million per year with little evidence of a meaningful reduction of Legionnaires’ disease in the state.  As an ongoing cost, the bill would have cost billions of dollars over the next decade and beyond. 

“Such resources should go toward prioritizing prevention and a comprehensive, holistic approach, to protect the most vulnerable and susceptible members of our population from Legionnaires’ disease. Californians deserve this.”

The Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the occurrence of Legionnaires’ disease by promoting public research and education on the disease, and best practices and policy for its prevention.