Community Water Center

Community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy

2015 Legislative Session Moves Us Closer to Water Justice

10857244_875260342541653_529728417726220310_o.jpgThanks to advocacy from our broad base of supporters and impacted residents, we demonstrated the power of grassroots organizing and advocacy this legislative session. CWC worked on several major bills that made it to the Governor’s desk. Most recently, we saw the passage of AB 401 (Dodd), which would require the state to develop a low-income water rate assistance program. SB 208 (Lara) would improve the Integrated Regional Water Management Program. SB 334 (Leyva) would require the provision of alternative drinking water sources at schools where contaminants are present. AB 1390 (Alejo) would streamline groundwater basin adjudication while strengthening the goals and process set out in SGMA. Several of these bills are still waiting for the Governor's approval, so we’re working hard to ensure Gov. Brown signs these important bills.

We applaud the legislative and administrative leaders who advanced additional bills earlier this year with the drought assistance package in March and the state budget in June. In March, we celebrated the creation of a new Office of Sustainable Water Solutions at the State Water Resources Control Board that focuses on promoting permanent and sustainable drinking water and wastewater solutions in small communities. The Governor accelerated vital Proposition 1 Water Bond funding and released an additional $24 million for emergency drinking water in small and disadvantaged communities affected by the drought. Advocacy during the California State Budget negotiation process led to three new and historic policies, including new tools and incentives to consolidate small water systems and accelerate more sustainable water solutions; the release of previously confidential well log data to help us better manage groundwater; and a new state financing system to more efficiently serve all water systems in the state. In addition, we started the year with almost a dozen bills seeking to roll back key provisions of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014. CWC and our partners prevented detrimental groundwater management bills from passing, and we worked with Assemblymember Alejo and Senator Pavley to ensure that the groundwater adjudication bills now on Governor Brown's desk (esp. AB 1390) streamline groundwater basin adjudication while strengthening the goals and process set out in SGMA.

Unfortunately, despite advocacy efforts by impacted community residents and groups throughout the legislative session, Assemblymember Mathis’ AB 954 did not pass, meaning we are still pursuing additional funding to create low-interest loan programs to assist private well owners who have run out of water during the drought. With 12,000 Californians completely out of running water due to the drought, we will keep the pressure on even with the beginning of the rainy season.

Thank you for your support during the legislative session! Phone calls, emails, and letters from supporters are crucial to realizing the human right to water in California. Please reach out to CWC’s policy team at 916-706-3346 if you have policy ideas you would like to advance in the 2016 legislative session. We’d love to hear from you!