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State Resources Board Approves Plans Costing $2.7 Billion

California’s State Water Resources Control Board announced, in mid-October, the approval of major spending plans for Fiscal 2022-2023 that total $2.7 billion for disadvantaged communities and water resiliency projects.

Those approved funds were announced simultaneously with the state’s recognition of the 10th anniversary since the nation’s first Human Right to Water law was adopted. Spending plans include financial assistance for projects that resolve problems which arise from inadequate infrastructure. Insufficient or problematic infrastructure becomes an obstacle for communities attempting to establish resilient water supplies, according to the announcement from the Resources Control Board.

Funding comes from historic investments made by Gov. Gavin Newsom, combined with finances approved by the California Legislature and money provided by the Biden administration – a state and federal venture demonstrating what working together can accomplish.

As stated in the announcement, “the board is expanding its capacity for grant and loan forgiveness to maximize a generational opportunity to reinvest in California’s outdated water infrastructure.”

Spending plans include $609 million from appropriated federal dollars allocated under guidelines set by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Specific projects which qualify for investments based on that law include water infrastructure; cleanup, revitalization, and recycling; electric, low-emission school buses; tribal communities; and pollution prevention.

As a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will direct investments on health, equity, and the resilience of American communities.

EPA intends to improve people’s health and safety in addition to creating “good paying jobs” and increasing climate resilience nationwide.

The law pours more than $50 billion into the EPA’s successful water infrastructure programs. It earmarks $20 billion or safe drinking water; $15 billion to r4eplace lead pipes; $12 billion to ensure clean water for communities; $1.8 billion to protect regional waters; and $135 million for additional water improvements.

These funds have been described as the means for a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strengthen and rebuild America’s water infrastructure.”

“Last week, joined by community advocates and partners, we reflected on how far we have come since California instituted the Human Right to Water in 2012,” said Joaquin Esquivel, Chairman of the State Water Board.

“Since then, hundreds of water systems are providing communities with reliable and affordable access to safe drinking water and sanitation,” Esquivel said. “But there is still much more work to do, especially as drought and climate change compound contamination and supply issues for our most vulnerable communities.”

Financing plans that the board adopted on October 3rd prioritize the following amounts for loan forgiveness and grants:

·         $765 million to build or upgrade water and wastewater infrastructure.

·         $55 million to address emerging contaminants in drinking water, such as PFAS.

·         $120 million to replace lead service lines and connections.

“The Human Right to Water story is one of clear progress, thanks in large part to Gov. Newsom’s leadership,” said Yana Garcia, California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection. “This historic milestone has enabled the state, together with water system administrators and communities, to reduce the population served by failing water systems by 40%. As we prepare for a fourth year of drought, our continued commitment and advocacy to realize this human right is as urgent as ever.”

Email Dimitri Stanich, the State Water Board Information Officer at Dimitri.Stanich@waterboards.ca.gov for more information.

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