State Water Board Authorizes Nearly Quarter Billion Dollars to Provide Safe and Affordable Drinking Water

New Web-based Tool Released to Track Progress toward Human Right to Water Goals

SACRAMENTO – The State Water Resources Control Board today (August 20, 2019) authorized spending nearly a quarter billion dollars to help local water systems provide safe, reliable drinking water to communities throughout the state and begin closing the safe drinking water gap for more than one million Californians.

“Communities across the state have struggled for far too long without access to safe drinking water,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel. “With today’s action, we can begin to close this gap and ensure that the essential human right to safe and affordable water is provided to all Californians.” The Board authorized spending $130 million this year and for the next 10 years from the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 200 (Monning), which created the fund to provide a reliable source of ongoing funding for safe drinking water needs using revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program.

The Board also voted to authorize spending $80 million in one-time appropriations from Proposition 68, the statewide bond measure voters passed in 2018, and $31.5 million in onetime, legislatively sanctioned General Fund dollars to provide emergency funding for projects serving disadvantaged communities.

More than 300 communities and thousands of domestic well users across the state lack safe drinking water because of contamination by arsenic, nitrates and other chemicals. Many other communities served by small drinking water systems are also vulnerable to water quality violations and lack the financial capacity to build, operate and maintain necessary treatment facilities

The new funding will allow the State Water Board to comprehensively address the full array of issues that prevent water systems from providing safe and affordable drinking water. This includes operating and maintaining modernized treatment systems, building the technical and managerial capacity of local water systems, and consolidating smaller systems with nearby larger ones.

The Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.