Environmental Justice Advocates Urge Swift Implementation of Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. –  In advance of today’s State Water Board hearing to discuss implementation of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, Phoebe Seaton, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability; Jonathan Nelson, Policy Director, Community Water Center; and Jennifer Clary, Water Programs Manager, Clean Water Action released the following statement:

“Passage of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund represented a historic victory for impacted communities who fought for decades to secure the Human Right to Water for their children and families. 

Now, in light of California’s drinking water crisis impacting more than 1 million Californians, we urge the Board to move as quickly as possible to implement the Fund⁠—first, to guarantee that those in need of emergency and interim safe drinking water, including those on domestic wells or served by state small water systems, receive rapid assistance; second, that those who have been waiting for sustainable safe drinking water solutions for years can see  long-term safe and affordable drinking water projects implemented as soon as possible; and third, that low-income communities faced with unaffordable water bills due to the cost of their drinking water treatment to receive much needed relief. We encourage the Board to develop a plan that would implement safe and affordable drinking water solutions for all communities currently without safe drinking water by 2025.  

Implementing this Fund will require transparency, accountability, institutional nimbleness, and a willingness to be responsive to community feedback. Successful implementation of the Fund will also require protecting the Fund from being diverted or raided for inappropriate projects. Finally, we urge the Board to be bold and consider opportunities to utilize implementation of the Fund to provide multi-faceted benefits to impacted communities⁠—for example, to identify opportunities to increase local accountability of safe water projects or Administrator entities, or to leverage funding for projects to enhance local workforce development. 

We look forward to working with the Water Board to move as quickly as possible towards a future in which all Californians can finally have permanent access to safe water. ”

The State Water Resources Control Board will meet Aug. 20 and 21 to discuss implementation of the Fund. The meeting will be held at the Cal EPA building in Sacramento. Representatives from impacted communities, as well as from the Community Water Center, Leadership Counsel and Clean Water Action, will be speaking on panels and providing public testimony. 

Jennifer Clary