Community Water Center

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

May 2017 CWLN Newsletter

Counties to Create Water Shortage Plans for Small and Rural Communities

The final report for “Making Conservation a California Way of Life” was released last month, which outlines an implementation plan for Executive Order B-37-16. The plan addresses eliminating water waste, updating Urban and Agricultural Water Shortage Contingency Plans (WSCP), updating water efficiency standards for urban water suppliers and improved drought planning for small water suppliers and rural communities. Unlike most of the other components to the report, which expand or update existing requirements, this last part on improved drought planning for small water suppliers (including both small public water systems and private well owners) is an entirely new requirement for California. This is an important gap in current planning that we need to fill, because, as this drought demonstrated, rural residents are among the most impacted by drought emergencies. Moreover, with climate change, prolonged drought like we have just experienced will likely occur more often, it will be all the more important that we take steps now to reduce the vulnerability of rural residents to drought emergencies and develop effective response plans for when emergencies do occur

The report specifies that each county will need to establish a Water Shortage Contingency Plan for all areas not currently covered by Urban Water Shortage Contingency Plans (required for cities with 10,000 people or more). Besides requiring that these plans include a vulnerability assessment of current water supplies, proactive actions to reduce vulnerability, and a reactive plan that includes communications protocols when a water shortage takes place, the Governor’s final report includes few details on how this requirement will be implemented or what it will look like. A stakeholder group has begun meeting to work out the remaining details, and it is really important that small water systems and private well owners participate to make sure these efforts meet your needs. The next public workshop to discuss this component of the plan will be held in June however the exact date has not yet been set.


 

REMINDER: Network Roundtable discussion on affordability May 23 and cancellation of regular briefing call

This month, instead of our regular monthly briefing call for network members on the fourth Thursday of the month, we will be meeting in person for our second Community Water Leaders Network Roundtable discussion on affordability Tuesday May 23rd instead! Join us to hear about two important affordability-related efforts underway in Sacramento, SB 623 and AB 401, and share your ideas and feedback with the State Water Resources Control Board!

Date: Tuesday May 23, 2017

Time: 6-8 PM (dinner included)

Location: 311 W. Murray Ave, Visalia


 

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: 2017-2018 Intended Use Plan Comment Period

Earlier this month the State Water Board released a draft Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Intended Use Plan (IUP) for 2017-2018. The DWSRF provides loans and grants to water systems for planning, design, and construction of drinking water improvement projects, including, but not limited to drilling new wells, service extensions, and consolidations. The IUP lays out the guidelines for how the funds will be prioritized and who is eligible for which types of funding. For example, grant or principal forgiveness funding is only available for DACs and SDACs. Each year the Board updates their guidelines to reflect current priorities and/or the availability of funds by first issuing a draft for public comment and then adopting a final version. This year’s draft can be found here.

As community water leaders, understanding changes to the IUP and how it may impact your district is important. Furthermore, your experience uniquely positions you to provide comments on how the IUP can be improved. The comment deadline is June 5th at NOON. For information on how to submit comments, including the mailing address and instructions on how to email your comments, please refer to the official notice for the IUP. The IUP will be presented to the Board at the June 20th workshop in Sacramento where the Board will also be accepting public comments.


 

Save the date: Encore Groundwater Sustainability Plan Workshop to be held June 24th

Did you miss the our April Groundwater Sustainability Plan workshop? Join us on June 24 from 10 AM - 2:30 PM for an encore repeat of our free, half-day workshop at Cafe 210 in Visalia. Required under the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, Groundwater Sustainability Plans are crucial to ensuring safe and affordable drinking water for your community long into the future. As a representative of a small water system, your voice is important in the SGMA process, and we want to help make sure you have the tools and information you need to participate fully. This workshop is designed for small drinking water systems in the Central Valley and will help prepare directors and staff to actively participate in Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) development in your area. Click here for more information and to RSVP (or call Kristin at 559-733-0219). Space is limited.


 

Upcoming events and trainings:

Find more events on our Community Water Leaders online calendar found at http://www.communitywatercenter.org/water_leaders_network.


 

Resource of the Month: Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) resources

By law, all public water systems need to develop and distribute an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to their customers on or before July 1, 2017. While CCRs are very important as they allow consumers to make educated decisions regarding any potential health risks pertaining to the quality, treatment, and management of their drinking water supply, we know that they can be time consuming and stressful to put together. Here are a few resources to help make this year’s process a little easier if you are still rushing to get it done.  

  • On May 24th from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM or 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Rural Communities Assistance Corporation (RCAC) will be holding an online training on CCRs that can not only help you better understand the requirements but also even to put your CCR together. You can register for free on the RCAC website. If you need a place to do the training, we are happy to set up the training for you in our conference room in Visalia.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a quick reference guide that is helpful to have on hand while you are preparing your report. You can find the guide here.

  • The California State Water Resources Control Board has a guidance document on CCRs for water suppliers that you can find here along with information about CCR translation and templates for your convenience.


 

Revisiting the Tulare Lake Basin DAC Water Study of 2014

On our April Network briefing call, we discussed the 2014 Tulare Lake Basin Disadvantaged Community Water Study and the applicability of its recommendations for local water boards three years later.

The Study, which resulted from a $2 million grant from the Department of Water Resources to to the County of Tulare to develop a plan for regional water and wastewater solutions for disadvantaged communities (DACs) in the Tulare Lake Basin, including areas in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare Counties. Informed by an extensive stakeholder participation process, the Study identified the priority issues limiting access to safe and affordable drinking and wastewater solutions in the region including: Lack of funding to offset increasingly expensive operations and maintenance costs in large part to lack of economies of scale; Lack of technical, managerial and financial (TMF) capacity by water and wastewater providers; Poor water quality; Inadequate or unaffordable funding or funding constraints to make improvements; Lack of informed, empowered, or engaged residents; Lack of vision and integrated planning to develop solutions; Inadequate existing infrastructure; Lack of information on DACs; Changing regulatory environment; and Insufficient quantity of water.

To address these priority issues, the study proposed 59 specific recommendations for achieving sustainable community water solutions. Of these recommendations, the following were directed at local water providers

  • Ensure specifics regarding existing infrastructure are known. Records maintained and accessible.

  • Conduct fiscal review annually to determine necessary levels of resources for replacement/maintenance and an appropriate time frame/funding plan

  • Attend training programs and encourage or require board members and staff to attend training programs

  • Even outside of larger infrastructure projects, develop processes for sharing common resources and other forms of consolidation to help reduce O&M costs and improve TMF capacity

  • Project alternatives should be analyzed to minimize ongoing O&M costs

  • Evaluate rates every three to five years and modify as appropriate to achieve financial goals

  • Seek funding to install meters, Read remotely and consider agreements with neighboring systems to support costs

  • Establish appropriate connection fees for any new connections to support capital improvements needed to serve those new connections

  • Develop an O&M plan

  • Do not allow new connections if the service capacity is not confirmed

  • Attend grant application workshops

  • Participate in IRWM group meetings and consider becoming an interested party of member

  • Provide the community as much information as possible and early opportunities to provide input

  • Attempt in person, phone or mail outreach as much as possible. Email and website not sufficient.

  • Expand community engagement in development of projects

  • Implement an ordinance prohibiting new well drilling within the PWS boundary and notify the county of the ordinance

We will continue to talk about how these and other recommendations for valley water systems can potentially be implemented to address priority issues today in 2017. If you want to learn more about the study, you can find all of the study documents here.


 

Action Item: Support Senate Bill 623 -- Creating a New Statewide Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund

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Central Valley residents talk with SB 623 author Senator Monning at the Capitol on April 19th.

On April 19th, Senate Bill 623 (by Sen. Bill Monning) received a unanimous vote by the members of the Senate Environmental Quality committee. This monumental vote means that the bill passed the first step towards becoming law, but there are still many more votes ahead of us. The next step for the bill will be a vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee and then a vote by the full Senate, which will likely occur before June 2nd. Your help is needed to make sure that vote is as successful as the last.

SB 623 would establish a new Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. The Fund would be authorized to provide interim drinking water supplies and to fund longer-term drinking water solutions, including O&M costs, for low-income communities that need drinking water treatment. The Fund would be administered by the Office of Sustainable Water Solutions at the State Water Resources Control Board, and it may also be used to finance a statewide low-income drinking water rate affordability program.

Your board can help make this sustainable funding source for communities a reality by passing a resolution in support. Agendize this issue for your next board meeting and ask your board if they are willing to support the proposed Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Here is a link a to a SB 623 template resolution that you can use. Resolutions submitted in May will have the biggest impact on the Senate vote, but resolutions received in June and July will still be helpful as the bill makes its way to the Assembly. If your board adopts a resolution, we can help submit the resolution for you, or provide you the information to do it yourself. Please let CWC staff know if you have questions or would like to find other ways to support this important campaign for safe and affordable drinking water!



Do you have any questions about this newsletter or the Community Water Leaders Network?
Contact Kristin Dobbin at 559-733-0219 or kristin.dobbin@communitywatercenter.org.

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