SANGER, Calif. — California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 200 by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), which establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to help local water systems provide safe drinking water.
In his first week in office, Governor Newsom proposed creating a permanent fund source for safe and clean drinking water projects. More than 1 million Californians lack access at home, work or school, which negatively impacts their everyday life.
“The fact that more than a million Californians can’t rely on clean water to drink or bathe in is a moral disgrace,” Newsom said.
“Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their kids drinking from the water fountain at school, and families shouldn’t have to dump water over their heads to shower every day,” he said. “This funding is critically important to addressing California’s long-standing safe drinking water issues, and I would like to thank the Legislature for working collaboratively to pass this solution.”
In June, Newsom signed the 2019-20 state budget, which provides $130 million to begin implementation of a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Program. SB 200 makes that money available. SB 200 also requires the State Water Resources Control Board to develop a fund expenditure plan to identify failing water systems, as well as solutions to provide safe and affordable water.
Newsom on Wednesday visited a small community neighborhood near Sanger, which struggles with safe drinking water issues. He spoke with families and members of the community that currently lack access to safe water. Many of these families receive five 8-gallon jugs of water every two weeks through a grant program, which they use for drinking and cooking. When they run out, they risk using the water from their sink.
Additionally, SB 200 advances California’s climate resiliency goals by helping to secure water resources statewide. Climate change adversely affects water availability and can affect water quality. Rising temperatures can affect precipitation amounts and result in less reliable water supplies, which increase the need to use water supplies that contain contaminants and require treatment to meet standards. Disadvantaged communities are most impacted by climate change.
In February, Newsom took several actions to bring safe drinking water to all Californians, including appropriating $10 million for emergency projects and $10 million to help bring local water districts into compliance with standards.
He also directed funding for schools from the fiscal year 2018-19 budget to be given as grants to public agencies, public water systems or non-profit organizations to help with water management; and re-appropriated the balance of 2016 funds for schools.