Community Water Center

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

Assembly, Senate Approve Landmark Drought Consolidation Bills

For immediate release: June 19, 2015
Contact: Jenny Rempel, CWC Communications and Development Coordinator, 916-706-3346

Drought Consolidation Bills Extends Lifeline to California Communities that Lack Safe and Affordable Drinking Water

The Legislature passed Governor Brown’s Drought Consolidation Budget Trailer Bill today and moved closer to securing safe, affordable drinking water for hundreds of California communities

Background

In 2012, California passed AB 685 proclaiming all its residents have a Human Right to Water. Many small water systems serving disadvantaged communities lack the capacity and infrastructure to reliably deliver safe water, exposing families to arsenic, nitrates and other contaminants. This leaves hundreds of thousands of Californians without access to safe and affordable drinking water, and the current drought only exacerbates the situation as wells run dry.

Many of these vulnerable communities are mere neighborhood blocks away from larger, sustainable drinking water systems. Consolidation – or merging - with those larger systems is the only way many small, disadvantaged communities will ever have safe and affordable drinking water. Until now, a variety of political, economic and social factors have frustrated efforts to facilitate the common-sense solution of consolidation for small, disadvantaged communities.

Passage of Drought Consolidation Legislation

Today, the legislature passed Senate Bill 88 and Assembly Bill 115, which authorize the State Water Resources Control Board to order water system consolidation where necessary to ensure that customers of small, struggling water systems have access to safe and affordable drinking water. The legislation also provides technical assistance and financing to assist local governments and water systems in implementing voluntary and mandatory consolidations.

Through this measure, the legislature and administration have demonstrated their commitment to confronting the barriers that have heretofore hindered regional collaboration. They have spoken loudly and unequivocally: the state will no longer allow large water systems to turn a blind eye to neighbors in need when consolidation is the most effective way of securing clean and affordable drinking water.

Isabel Solorio, a resident of Lanare, an unincorporated community that has long struggled with arsenic in its drinking water, celebrated passage of the measures today: “One way or another, we need to do something. It doesn’t make sense for a community to refuse to support its neighbor. If a community or a system has better capacity, it will cost them nothing to help improve the quality of life for those around it with safe and affordable drinking water.”

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