Davis hopes to calm fears of water contamination, air travel with new precautions | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Davis hopes to calm fears of water contamination, air travel with new precautions


SACRAMENTO (AP) – California’s water supply is under increased security to keep it safe from biological or chemical attacks, Gov. Gray Davis said Tuesday, after drinking a glass of Sacramento tap water to assure residents of its purity.

At a tour of the American River Water Treatment Plant, Davis said state and local law enforcement have beefed up air patrols and other security near aqueducts, reservoirs, dams and bridges since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The administration has also asked the Federal Aviation Administration to allow California Highway Patrol officers who take commercial flights ”to provide some measure of security,” Davis said.

Before the federal sky marshal program is functioning, the presence of local or state law enforcement officers on flights, ”if made known to the pilots, and potentially to the passengers, would add a measure of confidence and security to that flight,” Davis said.

CHP officers take about 7,800 work-related flights a year, Davis said, and he has asked for information about the number of flights taken by local police and sheriffs.

”They’re going to fly no matter what the FAA says. The only question is, can they perform some useful function while they’re on the flight,” he said.

Increased security in California immediately after the attacks cost about $1 million a day, Davis said. That has dropped to between $300,000 and $500,000 daily.

A 15 percent budget cut that Davis ordered all state departments to prepare for won’t affect testing or security of water facilities, the governor said.

”We’re not going to cut back on safety measures. They’re going to be protected in the budget review,” he said.

Department of Health Services Director Diana Bonta planned to review security measures at numerous water districts in the coming days, Davis said. The state Department of Health Services is responsible for maintaining drinking water standards.

Sacramento’s drinking water ”is tested about 150 times a day,” Davis said. ”There are elaborate and redundant tests to ensure that unwanted contaminants are not in the water.”

The state, he said, is doing rigorous testing and upgrading security around water facilities.

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