ACWA Calls MTBE Ban Delay Unjustified

July 25, 2002

In a letter July 24 to the California Air Resources Board (ARB), the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) expressed its opposition to Governor Davis' decision to delay the ban on MTBE in gasoline by one year.

The Board is attempting to incorporate the Governor's one-year extension into its official gasoline regulations. However, the Board's proposal did not include a single mention of the impacts to water supplies while MTBE remains in gas for an additional year.

"ACWA is extremely disappointed with the regulatory justification for this postponement," the letter stated.

Gasoline manufacturers who use MTBE were expected to phase it out by the end of 2002. In March, Davis extended the ban by one year and set a new phase-out deadline of December 31, 2003.

ACWA believes that delaying the ban by even one more day is another opportunity for MTBE to find its way into another community's water supplies. Given the choice between the continued use of MTBE use or protection of our water supplies and water quality, ACWA believes the public would put the safety of their water supply first.

ACWA is urging the Board to provide an analysis of potential statewide water supply impacts and resulting costs as part of its regulatory decision to postpone the ban of MTBE.

In the letter, ACWA also expressed concerns regarding the Board's approval of ethanol as a replacement for MTBE. ACWA's review of the Board's ethanol evaluation found major data gaps and uncertainties surrounding the environmental and public health impacts that ethanol may have.

ACWA and its 440 public water agency members have been ardent supporters of eliminating MTBE and all other oxygenates from California's gasoline based on the University of California finding that none are needed to meet clean air requirements.

ACWA is a statewide association whose 440 members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more information, visit

Source: Association of California Water Agencies