DROUGHT RELIEF PACKAGE A STEP TOWARD WATER JUSTICE
Spring is here and we're honoring César Chávez today! As the legislative season heats up with the weather, groundwater management and the drought remain hot topics. We’ve been working hard to keep low-income, rural community water needs at the forefront of discussions across the state. Read on to learn about the new drought legislation; a State Assembly hearing on East Porterville and the Tulare Lake Basin Study; Prop 1 implementation; well logs; Maria Herrera’s appointment to the California Water Commission; and more! We’re also thrilled to introduce you to four recent additions to our CWC team!
Susana and Laurel
Governor Brown, joined by President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, and Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, announced the drought legislation on March 19th. Photo Credit: Hector Amezcua, SacBee.
Governor Brown approved a $1 billion emergency drought relief package on Friday! The legislation is an important step toward ensuring all communities have access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water.
The package accelerates the appropriation of $135.5 million in Proposition 1 funding for drinking water and wastewater projects in low-income communities; allocates an additional $17 million for emergency food aid and $24 million for emergency drinking water; and creates a new Office of Sustainable Water Solutions within the Division of Drinking Water at the State Water Board. We applaud leadership in the legislature and the administration for acting quickly to release these funds before thousands more wells go dry this summer. The emergency drought relief package is essential to addressing the drought crisis in California communities, but we still have much more work to develop lasting, affordable drinking water solutions so that all Californians can enjoy the human right to water.
ASSEMBLY HEARING ON EAST PORTERVILLE AND TULARE LAKE BASIN REPORT
Angelica Gallegos, an East Porterville resident, speaks before the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee about her well going dry.
More than half a dozen East Porterville residents drove to Sacramento last month to testify before the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. These residents told devastating stories about life without water and left the room inspired by their determination and leadership in working toward a lasting drinking water solution for their community.
Later in the hearing, CWC and other stakeholders presented the recommendations of the Tulare Lake Basin Disadvantaged Community Water Study to the Committee.
PROP. 1 IMPLEMENTATION UPDATES
The $7.5 billion water bond (Prop. 1) was approved overwhelmingly by California voters last November to direct critical resources towards state water supply infrastructure projects. The bond targets at least $696 million specifically for disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged communities. Now, the task at hand is actually disbursing that money on the ground where it’s needed most. We will be developing written comments on the wastewater and drinking water guidelines with our allies and partners as part of the State Board’s public process. For information on how you can submit written comments, click here. CWC attended a Prop. 1 town hall meeting in Hanford and public workshops in Fresno and Sacramento to get the inside scoop.
WATER JUSTICE LEADERSHIP AWARDS A HUGE SUCCESS!
Felicia Marcus and CWC staff Omar, Laurel, and Susana congratulate the 2015 Water Justice Leaders!
Over 100 supporters joined CWC for our first annual Water Justice Leadership Awards on February 17th to honor the achievements of Joanna Mendoza, Jesus Quevedo, Senator Fran Pavley, Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, Jennifer Clary, and Martha Guzman-Aceves. Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Board, provided introductory remarks. We were so happy to celebrate with a diverse group of supporters! Thanks so much to all of our supporters and sponsors who made the event possible, and to the Water Justice Leaders who continue to inspire us and the work that we do. We can’t wait to celebrate again next year!
GOVERNOR BROWN APPOINTS MARIA HERRERA TO THE CA WATER COMMISSION!!
Maria Herrera is the third Valley member on the California Water Commission.
On March 11th, Governor Brown appointed Maria Herrera to the California Water Commission! Maria served as CWC’s Community Advocacy Director from 2008 to 2014, and she is currently an active AGUA member. With over seven years of experience in community organizing, leadership development, capacity building, and advocacy, Maria is a passionate advocate and one of the foremost experts on rural community water needs in the Central Valley. During her time with CWC, she helped lead the grassroots campaign to pass the historic Human Right to Water Bill in 2012, and she served as a powerful voice for environmental justice communities in the Governor’s Drinking Water Stakeholder Group. CWC is thrilled to see her in this new leadership role.
WELL LOGS UPDATE
During this historic drought, Californians deserve to know what's happening with our groundwater, yet California is the only state in the West without public well log data. CWC is rallying behind Senate Bill 20, introduced by Senator Fran Pavley, which would make well log data available to the public and dramatically improve our understanding and ability to address groundwater resource issues. CWC was so excited to watch SB 20 pass in the Committee on Natural Resources and Wildlife last week, but we need everyone’s continued support to make this bill a law! Read our fact sheet on SB 20 here and our recent op-ed in The Guardian here.
MEET OUR NEW CWC STAFF MEMBERS!
The CWC team has grown! We’re proud to introduce our four newest team members. Erasto Teran joins us as a Water Education & Outreach Specialist in our Visalia office. Erasto is a long-time resident of Porterville and has been an AGUA Coalition member for several years. He has been involved in multiple social justice and community organizing projects including work with the UFW and the Dolores Huerta Foundation. David Morin is also a Water Education & Outreach Specialist based in our Visalia office. A Tulare native, David brings experience as a staff member at the National Council of La Raza's annual conference and as a mentor for Latino youth at the University of the Pacific. Heather Lukacs joins us as Project Director to work on Agua4All, interim drinking water solutions, and our new private well testing program. Heather has an extensive background in water research, including point-of-use water treatment and community-based natural resource management. Heather received her PhD from Stanford University for her dissertation on community-based watershed restoration in Appalachia. Last but not least, Jerry Tinoco joins CWC as our South Kern Community Programs Coordinator. Jerry brings experience organizing with Hermanos Unidos de UC Berkeley and the RAZA Recruitment and Retention Center, as well as a wealth of experience researching the environmental and human health impacts of agriculture and climate change at UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan. We’re excited to have Jerry, a local Arvin resident, leading the Agua4All campaign and our Building Healthy Communities work in South Kern County.
Top photo by Bear Guerra