California Governor Jerry Brown, Legislative leadership and a bipartisan group of legislators last week dropped the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund as part of this year’s budget bill, but indicated that they will continue work on it through the summer. According to the Governor’s Department of Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer, “The Legislature has indicated a commitment to continue discussions this summer. They recognize that this is a very important issue that will take some more time to work through.”
The Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund proposes a modest fee that will be assessed on agriculture as well as on urban and commercial water users to provide replacement drinking water for disadvantaged communities statewide and ensure that all Californians have access to safe and affordable drinking water. The legislation (SB 623-Monning) would also protect farmers who are in compliance with Irrigated Lands Program requirements from enforcement actions by the state and regional water boards related to nitrate contamination in drinking water. That bill passed the state Senate last year and currently sits in the Assembly awaiting a floor vote.
For more information on the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, read the “Address state’s drinking water crisis while protecting farming” op-ed in Sacramento Bee, watch the “Take Action” video on Western Growers’ Facebook or read the “Safe Drinking Water Bill Moving Toward Finish Line” story in the most recent edition of WG&S Magazine.