More than 1,000 former residents of the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina are seeking nearly $10 billion in damages from the Federal Government over health problems they blame on exposure to contaminated drinking water at the base which was provided through the mid-1980s. The Navy Office of the Judge Advocate General is awaiting results of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry health study before acting on the claims. The Marine Corps estimate that 500,000 Camp Lejeune residents may have been exposed to the tainted water, including thousands of Vietnam-bound Marines. Federal health investigators estimate the number is higher. ATSDR has said its research would be jeopardized if the Navy does not pay $522,000 to keep the study going beyond this Sunday. The Navy has apparently delayed payment on the grounds that ATSDR did not follow Navy reporting and planning procedures. The Navy states they need more supporting information before being able to provide funding.
In California, the issue of drinking water liability, at least insofar as water utilities are concerned, was defined in In re Groundwater Cases (2007), 154 Cal. App. 4th 659. An excellent article (okay, I wrote it and was lead counsel for one of the water utilities) on the holdings of the Court can be found at http://www.ropers.com/article.asp?ArticleID=333.