Community Water Center

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

February 2017 CWLN Newsletter

Schools Now Able to Ask for Free Lead Testing from Water Systems

Are students at your local school drinking lead-contaminated water? It’s impossible to know without testing the water at the tap. For that reason a new program will allow California public schools, who aren’t required to test their tap water for lead, to request free lead testing from their public water system.

In late January, the State Water Resources Control Board sent a permit amendment notice to all public water systems in California requiring them to offer free tap water testing for lead contamination to the schools they serve.

Consumption of unsafe water is a serious health risk to children as they are more vulnerable than adults to the health effects of exposure to lead and other contaminants. Lead contamination of water typically occurs when pipes, faucets, or fixtures that contain lead corrode. Neither the state nor the federal Lead and Copper Rule requires tap water testing in schools. Under this new policy, school districts will need to request testing from their public water system in writing.

The school’s water provider will be required to test the water and then discuss remediation options if any of the samples show unsafe levels of lead.

The State Water Board is currently developing the guidelines for $9.5 million in grant funding which was allocated in the 2016-17 state budget to improve access to safe water in schools. This funding may be used to support schools that discover lead contamination as a result of this new testing.

If you would like to learn more about the new lead testing program or schools related funding, please contact CWC's Asha Kreiling at or 916-706-3346.

Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Initiative

Many diverse stakeholders and decision-makers including the State Water Resources Control Board, the Governor, Community Water Center, the Association of California Water Agencies, and agricultural stakeholders like Western Growers have made addressing barriers to achieving safe and affordable drinking water across the state a core focus this year. CWC and several drinking water advocacy groups are advocating that a new safe and affordable drinking water fund be established to provide a sustainable source of funding for unmet drinking water needs. These unmet needs include funding for ongoing operations and maintenance for drinking water infrastructure which remains a core barrier to implementing the human right to water for small systems.

To support this effort, CWC and our allies have been meeting with legislative and regulatory decision-makers, as well as key agricultural and drinking water stakeholders, to build support for addressing safe and affordable drinking water needs in 2017. Additionally, Community Water Center, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, Clean Water Action, and the A.G.U.A. Coalition held a legislative briefing on February 7 in the state Capitol to talk about safe and affordable drinking water. Dozens of Capitol staffers and members of the Capitol community attended the briefing.


CWC staff, allies, and Central Valley community residents provided testimony at the Feb. 8 State Water Board workshop on the need for safe, affordable water.

Also as part of this effort, the State Water Resources Control Board held a public informational workshop on February 8th in Sacramento on safe and affordable drinking water. Laurel Firestone Co-Executive Director of the Community Water Center, other drinking water stakeholders, and members of the public participated in discussion panels and provided public testimony in support of serious action to ensuring all communities have safe and affordable drinking water. Around 20 community partners shared their stories and advocated for safe, clean water; as did many nonprofits and public interest group representatives. Encouragingly, the Governor’s January State Budget Proposal included a mention of safe and affordable drinking water, which you can read more about here:

As we continue to advocate for a robust safe and affordable drinking water fund, we will need feedback and support from local water systems. Sign up to stay updated about this important campaign and opportunities to get involved!

Upcoming hearing on plan for the management of salt and nitrates in the Central Valley

Nitrates, one of the top contaminants impacting drinking water supplies in the Central Valley, pose a serious hazard to public health. Nitrates find their way into groundwater basins primarily from manmade sources such as fertilizers, dairy waste, and wastewater. Salts, another common contaminant, is not particularly hazardous to public health, but it does post a concern to agriculture as water with high levels of salts is not suitable for use one most crops. For over 10 years, dischargers of salts and nitrates (such as farms, dairies, and wastewater treatment plants), in conjunction with the Central Valley Water Board, have been working to develop a plan on how best to regulate salts and nitrates discharges. This process is known as CV-SALTS. The three primary goals of this process are: 1) addressing short & long-term drinking water needs for communities impacted by nitrates; 2) manage and reduce the amount of nitrate that reaches groundwater supplies; and 3) eventually restore the basin. The process is winding down and a draft plan was finally released mid-January and is open for public comment.

On March 9th there is a special Regional Water Board hearing in Rancho Cordova to present the Plan to the Board. While the CV-SALTS Coalition was supposed to be doing education and outreach throughout their plan development process, until now there have been few opportunities for the public, and especially impacted stakeholders like drinking water systems, to engage. Although discouraging, this makes the March 9th meeting all the more important. The Plan developed will have serious, far-reaching and long-lasting impacts upon all users of groundwater, but in particular, drinking water users. Consider attending the hearing on March 9th or finding out more about salt and nutrient regulatory programs and share your thoughts on how the group should achieve their stated goals.

Upcoming events:

  • February 23, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM. RCAC online workshop. Online Ethics Training for Board Members (AB1234). Register for free at
  • February 25, 9:30 AM - 2:00 PM. Human Right to Water Roundtable by Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL). Fresno Radisson Hotel (1055 Van Ness Ave). To register, email
  • February 28, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM or 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM. RCAC online workshop. Online Google Earth Mapping & Capital Improvement Planning. Register for free at
  • March 1, 11 AM- 12 PM or 2 - 3PM. Environmental Finance Center Network online webinar. Water Audits and Water Loss Control: Gathering your data. Register for free at
  • March 3, RCAC online webinar. Improving Your Operations and Reducing Costs. Register for free at
  • March 7, 8:30 AM - 1:30 PM. Water Stress and a Changing San Joaquin Valley. Hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California and the California Water Institute at Fresno State. Clovis Veterans Memorial District, Clovis, CA. Register for free at
  • March 21, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM. RCAC online workshop. Online Board Basics: Financial management. Register for free at
  • March 22, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM. RCAC online workshop. Online Regulations Basics: Public Notification. Register for free at
  • March 23-24. WELL (Water Education for Latino Leaders) conference. San Diego Wyndham Hotel. The conference is free and there are scholarships available for food and lodging for elected board members. To register, email
  • April 1, 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM. Groundwater Sustainability Plan Workshop hosted by the Community Water Leaders Network and sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Community Water Center and Self Help Enterprises. Cafe 210 in Visalia. To register, email

More events can be found on the Community Water Leaders online calendar at

Picture1.pngFeatured resources of the month:

This month, the State Water Resources Control Board announced the launch of its Human Right to Water Portal, a new website for the public to find information related to efforts to assure that every Californian has access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water. The portal will be updated with more data about water affordability in the coming weeks. Check it out for interactive maps and datasets that depict California’s progress towards achieving the human right to water. programs/hr2w/index.shtml   




Next Network Briefing: February 23, 4-5 PM

A core component of the Community Water Leaders Network is the monthly conference call that provides members an opportunity to connect with each other, crowd-source questions, and receive information from the comfort of their own homes. To join, simply dial (571) 317-3122, when prompted, enter the access code 611-041-917 followed by the pound key (#). Press # when prompted for the Audio Pin. Let Kristin know if you need a pre-paid calling card in order to call long-distance.


  1. Member updates and questions
  2. Regional and state updates and questions
  3. Monthly discussion topic: Water Quality and Public Health

Save the Date! Groundwater Sustainability Plan Workshop April 1st

Don’t miss the Community Water Leaders Network’s first official workshop! Join us for a free, one-day workshop featuring experts from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a national science non-profit. 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. The workshop will cover:

  • What is a GSP and why is it important for your community?
  • How does the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) define “sustainability” and how will it be measured?
  • What is a water budget and what can it tell you?
  • What can a groundwater model do, and what can’t it do?
  • What kind of questions should you ask consultants?


Date: April 1, 2017

Time: 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM (Lunch provided)

Where: Café 210, Assembly Room (210 W. Center Ave, Visalia)


Space is limited to register today by emailing Kristin at or calling 559-733-0219.

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

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