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Advocates Say Administration and Legislature Must Create a Sustainable Funding Source to Guarantee Safe Water
Sacramento, CA | May 12, 2017 -- Water justice advocates and environmental, health, rural, and equity organizations were dismayed that the Governor’s revised budget does not go far enough to address the state’s drinking water crisis. Almost five years after the Governor signed into law the Human Right to Water, 300 communities and one million Californians – far more than the population of Flint, Michigan – still lack this basic human right.
The Governor’s January Budget stated, “Although much progress has been made, some disadvantaged communities rely on contaminated groundwater and lack the resources to operate and maintain their water systems to deliver safe and affordable water. The Administration is committed to working with the Legislature and stakeholders to address this issue.”
“California has been a leader on drinking water, but we have to commit sustained funding if we want to solve the crisis this year,” said Laurel Firestone, Co-Executive Director of Community Water Center.
The State Water Resources Control Board released data in February indicating that hundreds of California communities are not able to finance long-overdue drinking water solutions. Some communities have had arsenic flowing from their taps for over a decade.
“Safe drinking water has been a priority for this administration, but it's still not adequately addressed in the budget that just came out,” said Jennifer Clary, Water Programs Manager at Clean Water Action California.
Arsenic, nitrate, and disinfectant byproducts are the most commonly occurring contaminants. Drinking water with these contaminants can cause rashes, miscarriages, and even cancer.
“The Governor’s Administration has prioritized the issue in the past, and now is the year for the administration and the legislature to invest in a lasting funding solution to ensure every Californian has safe and affordable drinking water,” said Phoebe Seaton, Co-Executive Director of Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.
“We need to double down our efforts to provide clean drinking water to children and contribute to their overall health and wellbeing,” said Kula Koenig, Government Relations Director, American Heart Association.
Funding for drought solutions remained at $5 million. However, even with the Governor’s recent declaration ending the state’s five year drought, advocates say this amount is not sufficient to meet many residents’ needs, primarily in small, low-income communities. In Central California alone, more than 1,000 residents are still without water. More funds are needed for emergency relief including statewide well replacement, permanent connections to public systems, well abandonment and debt relief.
“We appreciate that the Governor allocated modest funds for emergency relief. However, too many vulnerable Californians are still without access to drinking water,” said Stanley Keasling, RCAC’s chief executive officer. “For these residents, long-term drought impacts continue. Additional funding is critical to alleviating their suffering.”
“We are pleased that the Governor sees the need to address the lingering impacts of the drought on families who are still without running water at home,” said Tom Collishaw, Self-Help Enterprises’ President/Chief Executive Officer. “But having arsenic, nitrate or pesticides flowing from your tap is equally an emergency. We need state leaders to create a sustainable funding source this year to guarantee every Californian safe water.”