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EPA: San Francisco's 'Homeless Crisis' Impacting Water Quality

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Federal environmental officials fired another salvo Thursday in their growing dispute with California, sending a warning letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, claiming the homeless crisis in San Francisco and Los Angeles was impacting the state's water quality.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler authored the letter which came just days after the federal agency warned the state it could lose highway funds if it doesn't clean up its air.

In his letter, Wheeler said: "The EPA is aware of the growing homelessness crisis developing in major California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the impact of this crisis on the environment. Indeed, press reports indicate that "piles of feces" on sidewalks and streets in these cities is becoming all too common."

"The EPA is concerned about the potential water quality impacts from pathogens and other contaminants from untreated human waste entering nearby waters," he continued.

Newsom took to Twitter calling the action a weaponization of the EPA toward California.

"An overarching theme coming out of the White House: Trump persistently weaponizing our government to attack political opponents.

The Director of Natl Intelligence, the DOJ, the EPA...all being used to attack those that stand in his way.

This is about retaliation. Nothing more."

Read EPA Director Andrew Wheeler's Letter to California on Its Water Pollution

Wheeler said federal regulators concerns were elevated because "the state does not appear to be acting with urgency to mitigate the risks to human health."

The EPA director then took direct aim at San Francisco.

"Even more troubling is the City of San Francisco's years-long practice -- allowed by the CalEPA -- of routinely discharging more than one billion gallons of combined sewage and stormwater into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean on an annual basis," Wheeler said in his letter.

The EPA director gave California 30 days to come up with a plan to address its water quality issues. Wheeler said if the state doesn't meet its responsibilities, EPA will have to take action.

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