With support from many of you, we achieved a lot in the 2015 legislative session! Governor Brown signed many water justice bills that CWC and our community partners supported, including: AB 401 (Dodd), which requires the state to develop a low-income water rate assistance program; SB 208 (Lara), which improves the Integrated Regional Water Management Program; and AB 1390 (Alejo), which streamlines groundwater basin adjudication while strengthening the goals and process set out in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
CWC’s Erasto Teran and Martha Guzman-Acevez, Legislative Director in Gov. Brown’s Office, review a map of private well failures in East Porterville. Persistent advocacy from CWC, private well owners, and our partners resulted in an executive order that releases $5 million to create permanent solutions for Californians whose private wells have run dry.
Our persistent advocacy around the needs of drought-impacted private well owners also resulted in a big win right after the legislative session. A November executive order from Governor Brown allocates $5 million for the State Water Resources Control Board to create a private well rehabilitation program that could include both grants and loans to create permanent solutions for Californians whose private wells have run dry. This executive order came after about 30 residents in the San Joaquin Valley whose wells had run dry called the Governor’s Office and their elected officials to communicate the great need for additional, targeted funding to meet their needs. Other big wins in 2015 included the drought assistance package in March and the state budget in June. Read about our earlier 2015 legislative wins below! In 2016, we’ll continue advocating for bills that promote safe, affordable water in our communities!
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.
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!