2018 was a big year for Community Water Center. Our very own Laurel Firestone is now a Board Member of the State Water Resources Control Board, Monterey County became the first county in the US to declare that water is a “human right”, and Governor Newsom proposed a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund in the 2019/2020 budget. However, there is still work to do. This blog series will highlight our main policy campaigns for 2019, including:
At Community Water Center, we are not looking for a quick fix to the drinking water problem. Our goal is to find long-term drinking water solutions that are affordable and sustainable in the communities who need them most. We aim to transform water management for the safety of all Californian citizens through our policy campaigns.
Community Events & Announcements:
Armona Community Services Dedication of New $9,200,000 Well and Water Treatment Facility
The Board of Directors of the Armona Community Services cordially invites you to the dedication of their new $9,200,000 well and water treatment facility. The Dedication Ceremony will begin promptly at 11AM followed by facility tours and a light lunch. Armona is very proud of this state of the art facility and hope you are able to attend. If you would like to address the audience or make a presentation, please call Krystal at (559) 584-4542 in order for us to properly introduce you.
Friday, September 8th, 2017
10116- 14th Avenue, Hanford, CA (immediately South of the Old Kings Drive In Theater)
Community Water Center’s Water Justice Celebration
Join us for food, music, networking, and inspiring speakers! Check out our flyer and RSVP here: http://www.communitywatercenter.org/kehinton/2017visaliaevent
Thursday, September 21st, 2017
210 Cafe -- 210 W. Center Ave. Visalia, CA 93291
Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund (SB 623) updates:
SB 623 (Monning) creates a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund with the State Water Board to fund drinking water solutions including capital infrastructure and operations and maintenance (O&M) costs. Currently there is no available funding to help systems struggling to finance O&M costs and without being able to show ability to do so, these systems are ineligible for capital infrastructure grants and loans from the State. The fund will be partially funded through contributions from agriculture for communities impacted by nitrate contamination, and partially funded through a water user fee (less than a dollar for single-family homes) for all other barriers to safe and affordable drinking water.
So far SB 623 has passed through the California Senate and one committee in the California Assembly, but it still has a number of hurdles ahead. In late August the bill will be voted on in Assembly Appropriations committee, then in early September it will go to the Assembly floor for a vote, then back to the Senate for another floor vote, and finally the bill will go to the Governor who has until mid-October to sign the bill into law.
SB 623 needs your support and there are a number of ways you can help. If your district has not done so already, you can submit resolutions in support of the bill. You can call your local legislator and let them know you support safe drinking water for all. You can also go to fundsafewaterca.org/ to sign a petition in support of SB 623. Together we can ensure California finally has a sustainable source of funding to support the human right to water.
If you have any questions please contact Jonathan Nelson at 916-706-3346 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Low Income Rate Assistance Program (AB 401) update:
The State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) has concluded a series of public meetings to discuss options for a low-income rate assistance (LIRA) program to help Californians who have difficulties paying their water bills. Some local programs already exist, but AB 401 (passed in 2015) directs the Water Board to develop a plan for a statewide program that would cover many low-income households not currently served by a water LIRA. In the coming months, the Water Board will be working on a report to submit to the legislature in early 2018 that will include any recommendations for legislative action; if approved, a statewide water LIRA program could be in place in 2019. CWC will continue to be involved in the implementation process to ensure that the needs of California’s small rural communities are addressed in the proposal. You can help the Water Board design an effective, appropriate program to help low-income residents pay their water bills by submitting written comments on the published AB 401 scenarios until August 25th. This is an important step toward water affordability, and another step closer to achieving the human right to water for all Californians!
If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Sonia Saini at email@example.com.
Don’t miss our next Network Briefing: September 28th, 4-5 PM
REMINDER: no Network Briefing call in August
Network “briefings” are monthly conference calls that provide members the opportunity to connect with each other, crowd-source questions, and receive information from the comfort of their own homes. As a reminder, we changed service providers which means, we have a new conference call phone number and passcode. To join, dial (929) 432-4463, when prompted, enter the access code 5254-59-7515 followed by the pound key (#). Let Adriana 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: Prop 1 / funding projects
Upcoming Events and Trainings:
Find more events on our Community Water Leaders online calendar found at http://www.communitywatercenter.org/water_leaders_network.
Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) Updates:
On August 1st, 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted a resolution to remove the the current MCL for the pollutant hexavalent chromium (chrome 6). This resolution was passed after a Superior Court of Sacramento County ruling invalidated the hexavalent chromium MCL on May 31, 2017. In 2014 the MCL was set at 10 parts per billion (ppb). Hexavalent chromium is a naturally occurring heavy metal that may cause cancer after long-term exposure.
The hexavalent chromium MCL will be deleted from the California Code of Regulations in late September. The Board will begin the process for adopting a new MCL and will have a new MCL in approximately 18-24 months. While the State will not enforce hexavalent chromium compliance plans, the state MCL for total chromium (both trivalent and hexavalent chromium) of 50 ppb will remain in place. The Board estimates that the new MCL will be at the same or similar level as the now invalid one. Public water systems that planned/completed projects to treat hexavalent chromium may use that information once the new MCL is established.
Featured Resources of the Month:
The State Water Resources Control Board just released an updated guide that provides information on the various ways to engage with your local Water Board. The guide includes information ranging from: government structure and overview of water board programs, basin planning processes, water rights application processes, and a series of Water Board maps. The guide provides examples of available databases such as My Water Quality, a web portal for monitoring water safety, and GeoTracker, a data management system for impacted groundwater sites where users can layer data onto a map. No matter what your current level of engagement with our Regional Water Board, this guide is a helpful reference for navigating processes and getting connected with water resources.
The Groundwater Information Center (GIC) is a web portal where visitors can access groundwater information ranging from: groundwater management plans, water well basics, well permitting processes, and information on bulletin 118. The portal also offers links to an interactive groundwater map application and a link to the Water Data Library (WDL) with data for over 35,000 California wells.
REMINDER: Reduced Annual Fees for DAC Public Water Systems
On May 15, 2017 the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water issued a letter to Community Public Water Systems informing them of the possibility of reducing their Annual Fee if the system serves a Disadvantaged Community (DAC).
If you qualify (the Median Household Income in your community is less than $49,454), the reduced fee for your water system will be based on the number of connections that you serve. Systems serving fewer than 100 connections will pay $100. Systems serving 15,000 connections or less will pay $100 plus $2 for each service connection greater than 100.
If you believe your water system is eligible and wish to receive a reduced Annual Fee, submit a request in the form of a signed letter and include information demonstrating that your community meets the definition of a Disadvantaged Community, the DDW will respond.
You can find the letter they sent here. If you have any questions, contact your District Engineer.
On Tuesday, Nov. 17th, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of applying for state funding to develop an interim groundwater ordinance. This is a huge step forwards for a region where thousands of residents lack running water due to excessive groundwater pumping. After four years of drought, we need to take local action now to mitigate impacts and protect our most vulnerable residents.
Since January 2014, Fresno County has issued over 2,800 well drilling permits with few restrictions despite the adverse impacts of these new wells on rural residents in our fourth year of severe drought. With thousands of dry household wells in the San Joaquin Valley, our counties need to do a better job monitoring well drilling and addressing the negative impacts of virtually unrestricted groundwater pumping. At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Kristin Dobbin of the Community Water Center, Leticia Corona of Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, and Austin Hall of the Fresno Regional Partnership attended to testify in support of applying for state funding to develop an interim groundwater ordinance.
By voting to include funding for the development of a groundwater ordinance, the Board of Supervisors took a huge step forward towards protecting our most vulnerable residents and setting the County on the path towards sustainable groundwater management, as mandated by the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Once the funding application is approved, our next step will be to work with Fresno County to ensure the interim groundwater ordinance adequately protects our valuable groundwater resources and prioritizes the human right to water.
Community Water Center has been working diligently to help educate stakeholders about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014. Working with partners throughout the valley we have hosted a series of workshops for regional stakeholders and have also visited many of our local water boards to conduct individual informational sessions. If you are interested in learning more about SGMA implementation, or want to get involved, contact Adriana Renteria at (559) 733-0219.
SGMA overview (bilingual/bilingüe)
SGMA FAQ (bilingual/bilingüe)
Understanding the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Presentation (bilingual/bilingüe)
Also check out this Groundwater Management Technical Assistance Tool developed by our friends at the Union of Concerned Scientists !
CWC advocates for policies and practices at the state and regional level that prevent fertilizers, manure, and pesticides from contaminating the drinking water supplies of San Joaquin Valley communities. The Center is a strong voice for effective and enforceable regulatory programs that will inform the relationship between best practices and groundwater quality, allow regulators to distinguish between good and bad actors in the agriculture industry, and provide funding mechanisms to help pay for remediation of drinking water contamination in low-income rural communities. CWC conducts much of its groundwater protection work primarily through a collaborative project with the Clean Water Fund and Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.
Community Water Center has been working diligently to help educate stakeholders about the Sustainable Groundwater Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014. Working with partners throughout the valley we have hosted a series of workshops for regional stakeholders and have also visited many of our local water boards to conduct individual informational sessions.
More SGMA resources can be found here.