Reimagining our Water System: Ensuring Access to Safe Drinking Water

Wednesday, Sep 4th, 2019

The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) and water leaders in Northern California have appreciated the opportunity to engage with the Newsom Administration and our many partners to help develop and then implement “a water resilience portfolio (portfolio) that meets the needs of California’s communities, economy, and environment through the 21st century.” We use the principles in the Governor’s Executive Order as the starting point for our discussions and offer the following ideas as a roadmap for resilience we believe will add value to California’s water management system.

This is the initial blog in a series that will present our ideas on the critical elements for a water resilience portfolio from a Sacramento River Basin perspective. Through this series, we are seeking your thoughts and ideas (see below) that will help the Sacramento River Basin provide meaningful contributions to the water resilience portfolio and the ensuing actions necessary for a 21st Century water management system.

With respect to safe drinking water, Sacramento Valley leaders are committed to advancing a comprehensive approach to expand and ensure “all communities have access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water.” This comprehensive approach: Ensuring Access to Safe Drinking Water for All California Communities, is described in detail below. As Governor Newsom has emphasized, solving this problem will “demand political will from each and every one of us.”

All Californians have a right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water under the “human right to water” established in state law in 2012. While significant progress has been made toward realizing this right during the 2019 legislative session, there is both an urgent need and an important opportunity to take additional long-term actions to ensure that all California communities have access to water that meets the health-based standards of the state and federal Safe Drinking Water Acts.

NCWA, through its Board of Directors representing local water agencies and counties, is committed to fixing drinking water problems in our local communities and continuing to advance the water quality protection programs underway to protect all beneficial uses of water in the region.

This includes continued work within the Sacramento Valley to help ensure that water systems currently out of compliance can make progress toward meeting all relevant state and federal standards. With a sustained focus on entities that were in violation of one or more primary drinking water standards, the number of water systems listed by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) as out of compliance in the Sacramento Valley has been significantly reduced in the past several years. These efforts to return water systems to compliance through local actions under new and existing state programs will continue with a goal to have no communities on the list within the next several years.

Importantly, NCWA’s approach addresses the various challenges (i.e., technical, managerial and financial) that result in a lack of safe and reliable drinking water for communities in the Sacramento Valley and statewide. For more details, please click on the document below.

The Northern California Water Association is engaged with the state agencies and diverse partners and others throughout California on the water resilience portfolio and how the Sacramento River Basin can effectively contribute to the water resilience portfolio and the actions that will help advance a 21st Century water management system for California. For safe drinking water, the NCWA Board effort is chaired by Steve Butler, a farmer, avid fisherman and hunter, conservationist, water company Board member and former chair of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. We welcome additional ideas and thoughts to make these contributions more effective. Please provide any thoughts or ideas to

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