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Expanding access to safe and affordable drinking water in California – a status update

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has just published the following report:

Expanding Access to Safe and Affordable Drinking Water in California—A Status Update

Despite California being the first state in the nation to adopt a policy stating that clean water is a human right, an estimated 1 million Californians currently lack access to safe and affordable drinking water. To improve upon these conditions, in 2019 the Legislature passed and the Governor signed Chapter 120 (SB 200, Monning), which established a new stream of dedicated funding totaling up to $130 million annually for projects to expand access to safe and affordable drinking water. The legislation tasked the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) with administering the funding and overseeing efforts to implement both short- and long-term solutions to persistent drinking water problems. This report provides background on the problems the new funding is intended to address, and both describes and assesses SWRCB’s plans for using this funding.

One year into implementation of SB 200, we find that SWRCB has made good progress in establishing spending priorities, beginning to allocate funds and execute projects, and collecting essential data to identify the communities that should be targeted for improvements. However, the state is still in the very early stages of implementation. We highlight some issues for the Legislature to continue to monitor in the coming months and years to ensure statewide goals for improving access to drinking water are effectively achieved. These include the degree to which the drinking water program is meeting its objectives, whether additional information to assess the program’s performance might be needed, and how well existing funding aligns with identified statewide needs. In addition, emerging issues—including continued groundwater pumping, drought, and the impacts of coronavirus disease 2019—could counteract the progress of the state’s drinking water efforts by exacerbating the statewide conditions the program is working to improve.

This report is available using the following link: https://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/4294?utm_source=laowww&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=4294

This article was released by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.