A Tough Year Behind Us, an Exciting Year Ahead 

  • by Dave Eggerton
  • Dec 18, 2020
  • Voices on Water

The past year threw everything it had at the California water community. 

Catastrophic wildfires once again set historic precedents. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting suspension of water shutoffs due to nonpayment, while laudable on a humanitarian level, cut into the revenue stream for many water agencies. As well, a sudden shift to telecommuting for some of the workforce, while minor in comparison, nonetheless added to a year of unrelenting challenges.

Despite all of this, I feel a sense of great optimism as we enter 2021. 

First, just having 2020 behind us is reason enough for celebration. But more than that, the past year revealed, like no other before it, our shared dedication to providing an essential public service while remaining resilient no matter how difficult the challenge.

Our membership supported a year of robust advocacy in Washington D.C. toward securing water infrastructure investment and COVID-19 stimulus relief funding. We are not quite there, but our voice has definitely been heard. The House has passed the HEROES Act containing $1.5 billion for water ratepayer assistance. Congress also continues working on infrastructure funding legislation to provide economic stimulus that would include California water projects. 

Backing these efforts, ACWA joined with the Community Water Center and a diverse coalition to add to our federal advocacy. ACWA’s federal efforts will also continue to push next year for increased funding to improve the health of our headwater areas by increasing the pace and scale of forest management and working to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

Here in Sacramento, ACWA continues to actively engage with the State Water Resources Control Board on the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program. This program includes the implementation of SB 200 (Monning, 2019). Our advocacy has made a positive impact, most recently in helping to define the scope of at-risk water systems. ACWA is providing input to the State Water Board that would help the Board implement SB 200 in an efficient and solution-oriented way.

There was also significant coordinated advocacy in support of the Voluntary Agreements (VAs). Although the filing of state and federal litigation earlier this year hampered their progress, there is reason for optimism that the VAs can and will be successfully completed in 2021 for the benefit of the people, economy and ecosystems of California.  ACWA’s Roadmap for their completion shows the path forward for all interested parties to join together in reaching an historic achievement for water management.  

As we close out the year, the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine brings with it the reasonable expectation of seeing each other in-person again during 2021. I so look forward to that day!

The ACWA community rose to historically tough challenges during 2020. I have every reason to believe that our hard work this year sets the stage for a potentially historic 2021 in California water.

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