Looking Back on an Incredibly Busy Year

  • by Dave Eggerton
  • Dec 16, 2022
  • Voices on Water

What a thrill seeing so many of you in Indian Wells for ACWA’s 2022 Fall Conference & Exhibition. It marked another exciting return to the traditional conference experience we missed during the past couple of years. The event also capped another year of challenges overcome and wins achieved, often against tough odds. 

Looking back at 2022, your association’s advocacy in both Sacramento and in Washington D.C. delivered meaningful results on behalf of member agencies. The association helped secure a combined $7 billion in state and federal funding for water-related issues, ranging from infrastructure to headwaters health. 

This included ACWA’s collaborating with organized labor to obtain state funding for dam safety, a small but significant start that represented a major breakthrough in a years-long effort. ACWA recognizes this as a high priority for many member agencies, and we’ll continue working hard to expand state investment in this area.

Many times, our advocacy also stops well-intentioned but problematic legislation that could burden our member agencies without realistically benefiting Californians. SB 222 from this year provides a good example. The bill proposed a Water Rate Assistance Program for both drinking water and wastewater services to low-income residential ratepayers, a concept that ACWA supports if backed by a funding source and administered efficiently so that those in need receive the full benefit of the program. SB 222 featured neither, and ACWA mounted a determined oppose-unless-amend campaign through the bill’s passage out of the legislature and right up to the governor’s desk, where we ultimately prevailed through a veto. 

That, along with many of our accomplishments during 2022, can be measured against goals outlined in ACWA’s Five-Year Strategic Plan. We’re three years into this plan, and I’m proud to report that we can check a lot of boxes.

During the year, another advocacy win included ACWA-sponsored AB 2142 being signed into law. The success of this bill will reinstate the exemption for turf rebates, which expired in 2019, for taxable years 2022 through 2026. ACWA also co-hosted a webinar between member agency general managers and state agency secretaries regarding drought actions, which also allowed ACWA to reinforce the case for not relying on one-size-fits all solutions. 

Internally, ACWA improved its organizational strength by rebuilding its computer network and initiating a new event management system, all designed to continue improving our service to member agencies. ACWA also launched a statewide public education campaign – QuenchCA – and our new nonprofit Foundation to advance workforce and leadership development in the water industry, both designed to help the ACWA community in different, but very important ways. 

This combination of lesser-known and well-known accomplishments belong to a long list of 2022 wins. Not having enough space to list all of ACWA’s yearly accomplishments in this space continues to be a great problem to have. 

However, there is always work to be done, and being the dynamic organization that we are requires consistently listening, learning and supporting. So much of this vital and incredibly rewarding work takes place while personally interacting with members of our community. In addition to the success of our fall and spring conferences, ACWA region events throughout 2022 attracted a total of more than 600 attendees. This number demonstrates the strength of our association’s connectivity and engagement between member agencies throughout the state. 

Ultimately, it’s about identifying and seizing opportunities to help our member agencies answer the immense challenges facing them. With an expected fourth year of drought ahead of us, along with legislative and regulatory uncertainty, 2023 will deliver those opportunities in abundance. Working for you will be the finest team of professionals I’ve ever worked with, and they have the track record to prove it. It is a privilege to lead them, and an honor for all of us to work on your behalf.

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