This week, Governor Brown signed a series of legislative proposals aimed at improving California’s water systems. Six bills from the Clean Water for Californians Bill Package introduced by several members of the Legislature, three of them authored by Assemblymember Luis Alejo, to address the drinking water problem in California are part of the water bills signed into law by Governor Brown.
“I am pleased to see the Legislature and Governor Brown working together to make sure we are protecting the basic right to clean, safe and affordable drinking water,” said Alejo. “Most of us assume we will receive clean drinking water when we turn on the faucet in our house, but for more than two million Californians, this isn’t guaranteed. The bill package signed by the Governor will not only bring immediate relief to Californians lacking safe drinking water, but it will also start to fix California's chronic, statewide drinking water problem."
About 21 million people in California live in communities that rely on a contaminated groundwater source for drinking water. Of these, 2.1 million Californians are served by systems that have recently violated drinking water safety standards. California will need to invest approximately $40 billion over the next two decades to ensure safe drinking water throughout the state.
Early this year, the California Department of Public Health (DPH) was cited by US EPA for failures in the Safe Drinking Water Act. DPH failed to spend $455 million of federal money meant to improve water infrastructure in the state, while thousands of people rely on groundwater laced with nitrates and other contaminants. Assembly Bill (AB) 118, one of the bills signed by the Governor this week, will speed the payment of this huge backlog of funds and will help California comply with federal requirements.
The Clean Water for Californians bills signed into law are:
AB 21 (Alejo/ V. Manuel Pérez), Small Community Emergency Grant Fund: Creates the Safe Drinking Water Small Community Grant Fund to provide $50 million in grants to address contaminated water in small communities.
AB 30 (Perea), Small Community Water Fund: Eliminates the 2014 sunset provision for the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund.
AB 115 (Perea), Regional Solutions for Clean Drinking Water: Authorizes funding, through the Drinking Water Fund, of projects to benefit a disadvantaged community that is not the applying agency, extending applicant eligibility to larger agencies with the expertise to assist disadvantaged communities that suffer from contamination of their drinking water sources.
AB 118 (Alejo), Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund Cleanup: Authorizes DPH to provide drinking water systems loans in in excess of the current $10 million limit and amend other statutory provisions relating to the drinking water program.
AB 119 (Alejo), Drinking Water Devices: Deletes current redundant state certification requirements for drinking water device certification. Instead, bill requires each manufacturer of water treatment devices to submit specified information and a fee to DPH for purposes of inclusion on the DPH’s Internet Web site.
“Clean, safe drinking water is a basic necessity for a safe and healthy living environment,” Alejo said. “The Clean Water for Californians bills will ensure that all Californians, regardless of which communities they live in, will have access to clean, safe drinking water."