ACWA/CMUA Safe Drinking Water Trust Proposal Gains Support at Assembly Joint Informational Hearing by Matt Veeh Feb 6, 2019 Water News The California State Assembly hosted a joint informational hearing today on the topic of Safe and Affordable Drinking Water and ACWA participated to advocate on behalf of member agencies. The hearing included committee members from Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee, the Assembly Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials Committee, and Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3. The hearing provided Legislators and members of the public in attendance with some initial details about the proposed Safe Drinking Water Trust legislation that ACWA and CMUA are sponsoring. The joint informational hearing consisted of an opening statement by Senator William Monning (D – Carmel), who authored SB 623, two panels and public testimony. The first panel was used to frame some of the issues surrounding safe drinking water in California and the Administration’s proposal for safe drinking water legislation, and included the following panelists: Wade Crowfoot – Secretary for Natural Resources, California Natural Resources Agency Joaquin Esquivel – Board Member, State Water Board Susana De Anda – Co-Executive Director, Community Water Center The second panel focused on having drinking water solutions that are effective. This panel included: Castulo Estrada – Vice President, Coachella Valley Water District Cindy Paulson – Executive Director, California Urban Water Agencies Paul Jones – General Manager, Eastern Municipal Water District During the hearing, there was unanimous agreement that addressing the safe drinking water issues faced by many disadvantaged communities in California is a high priority for the state and that action must be taken soon to solve this problem. Where stakeholders disagreed was over how to generate the funding that will be needed to pay for ongoing operation & maintenance costs of many public water systems in disadvantaged areas of the state. “We join Senator Monning and his colleagues in recognizing the urgent need to address and solve the state’s ongoing drinking water issues in disadvantaged communities,” said Cindy Tuck, Deputy Executive Director of ACWA. “The remaining issue is the funding source, and we believe the timing is perfect for establishing and funding a Safe Drinking Water Trust that will provide the necessary durable funding.” During the second panel, Jones provided a summary of the proposed Trust legislation, connecting it to his District’s efforts to consolidate with small community water systems in Riverside County that are out of compliance with state and federal drinking water standards. Jones said the Trust would provide an efficient and effective funding source that could supplement one-time funds from water bonds that help pay for capital projects, but not O&M costs. During the public comment period, representatives from dozens of ACWA member agencies and other coalition members spoke in support of the Safe Drinking Water Trust and in opposition to a statewide water tax. As the joint hearing was informational in nature, no vote or other action was taken during the meeting. In the coming weeks, ACWA will continue to advocate for its Safe Drinking Water Trust proposal.