In a positive step forward, Governor Newsom signed SB 200 (Monning) on Wednesday, July 24. SB 200 establishes a “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund” and secures a long-term funding source that dedicates nearly $1.5 billion in combined funding to address the lack of safe drinking water in some communities across the state. SB 200 was supported by NCWA and a broad coalition of water, agriculture, local government, environmental justice and community organizations.
Under SB 200, funding in the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund will be available to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for allocation as local assistance, grants, and contracts for purposes including water system operations and maintenance costs, consolidation costs, replacement water, and the provision of administrative and managerial services for the purpose of advancing long-term system sustainability. The SWRCB is required to develop a Fund Expenditure Plan to identify public water systems, community water systems, and state small water systems that fail, or are at risk of failing, to provide safe drinking water. The Plan will also determine the amount and type of funding necessary to address these failures.
SB 200 provides a long-term policy framework and funding source to advance efforts to help ensure that all California communities have access to safe drinking water. The 2019-2020 state budget includes over $160 million in combined General Fund and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) dollars for these purposes, while SB 200 appropriates $130 million annually in GGRF beginning in 2020-2021 and continuing through 2030. This unprecedented allocation of state resources will support critical activities that are otherwise cost prohibitive for impacted communities.
The enactment of SB 200 represents an important milestone, but successful implementation of the program will require additional action by both state and local entities. NCWA and water managers in the Sacramento Valley are committed to continued work within the Sacramento Valley to ensure that any water systems currently out of compliance can make progress toward meeting all relevant state and federal standards, with the goal of ensuring that all Sacramento Valley water systems are in compliance as soon as possible.
We anticipate that implementation of SB 200 and securing access to safe drinking water for all Californians will be a central component of Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio. In recognition of the full scope of technical, managerial, and financial challenges that result in a lack of safe and reliable drinking water in some communities, NCWA will continue to advocate for a comprehensive policy approach to addressing safe drinking water that empowers effective local agencies, targets funding to address specific needs, and emphasizes collaborative locally-appropriate solutions to enable continued progress toward ensuring that all Californians have access to safe drinking water.