On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a $167 billion state budget that prioritized investments in safe drinking water. Our team at the Community Water Center has been working with the Drinking Water Advocates Coalition, the Administration, and the Legislature to make sure California invests in access to safe, clean, and affordable water, and we are delighted to report that our hard work has paid off through the 2016-17 California budget!
We applaud the Governor and the Legislature for investing $80 million to address California’s drinking water crisis. Funding prioritizes drought disaster relief, emergency drinking water projects, safe water in schools, and better data tracking and reporting, among other programs. Key investments include:
$9.5 million for improved water access and quality in schools and an additional $500,000 for nonprofit organizations to provide support for outreach and technical assistance
$26.7 million for technical assistance and drought disaster relief
$5.4 million (General Fund) and $16 million (Cleanup and Abatement Account) for water rights enforcement and curtailment, and grants for emergency drinking water projects
$12 million for operation of the drought management operations center, water transfer support, and water supply modeling
$10 million for emergency drinking water support for small communities, including addressing private well owners’ needs
$565,000 for four new positions at the State Water Resources Control Board to improve drinking water monitoring and data collection
We applaud the Governor and the Legislature for taking important steps to address California’s drinking water crisis. We especially appreciate the work of Assemblymembers Bloom and Ting for helping secure this much needed funding. Their leadership along with their colleagues from the Senate and staff from all three branches helped to make this a reality.
The Drinking Water Advocates Coalition, which represents rural water advocates, urban water districts, education and children’s organizations, and environmental justice, health and equity organizations, has expressed its gratitude for these critical investments in the 2016-17 budget.
Even as we celebrate these important investments, the Coalition recognizes the vital need to continue our work advancing the Human Right to Water in California. Our efforts to secure additional short- and long-term funding sources to address the unmet drinking water needs of communities across the state are not over. More than one million Californians are impacted by unsafe drinking water each year.
California’s small, low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately face drinking water challenges which have not been adequately addressed through existing funding sources, such as Proposition 1, the Cleanup and Abatement Fund, and the recent one-time allocations in the state budget. An ongoing, sustainable funding source is still necessary to secure safe, clean and affordable drinking water and sanitation (the Human Right to Water) for all Californians. We will continue to advocate for a sustainable funding source to address communities’ long-term drinking water needs, including water system operation and maintenance, metering and leak detection for small, low-income communities and households, and funds for low-income Californians reliant on small water systems and private wells impacted by unsafe or unreliable water.
Years of advocacy by CWC and our allies for increased investment in California’s small, rural communities helped place the draft budget in a strong place for addressing the state’s drinking water needs, and our continued efforts this year further strengthened drinking water investments in the budget. We look forward to working with directly impacted communities to make sure this funding gets put to good use quickly!