Consolidation and Small Systems
Topic: Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Advisory Group (SAFER)
Highlights from recent committee meeting:
- Senate Bill 200 created the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Advisory Group (SAFER) to help struggling water systems provide safe and adequate water.
- The committee will be advising the State Water Control Board on the expenditure of $130MM from the Greenhouse Reduction Fund.
- Held in January, the first meeting focused on the process of data collection, as they are still in the planning phase of their project wherein, they will determine whether or not the 3,000+ water systems statewide are in danger of providing unsafe water.
- The advisory group will be using the technical, managerial, and financial capacities to determine the risk they may face and where funds should be directed.
- Consolidation of larger and smaller systems is being suggested as a solution in many cases, but many members of the Committee expressed concern about the fear of local control.
- Advisory Committee members such as Castulo Estrada did not believe that consolidations would easily occur lacking incentives and where concerns are expressed by residents about the changes that would be imposed on the systems absorbing smaller ones.
- Members of the group such as Sergio Carranza, Isabel Solorio and Horacio Amezquita requested that structures be put in place outlining emergency response procedures in areas of crisis.
- The advisory group noted these comments and stated that their aim is to have prepared deliverables that align with the statutory regulations in the next meeting which is to be held on February 19, 2020.
Bills of Interest
AB 2296 (Quirk): State Water Resources Control Board: local primacy delegation: funding stabilization program.
Summary: AB 2296 authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board to delegate partial responsibility for the California Safe Drinking Water Act’s administration and enforcement by means of a local primacy delegation agreement. The bill would authorize the state board, for counties that have not been delegated primary responsibility as of January 1, 2021, to offer an opportunity for the county to apply for partial or primary responsibility if the state board determines that it needs assistance in performing administrative and enforcement activities, as specified. The bill would authorize the state board to approve the application for delegation if the state board determines that the local health officer is able to sufficiently perform the administrative and enforcement activities and would specify that a local primacy agency has all of the authority over designated public water systems as is granted to the state board.
AB 2093 (Gloria): Public records: writing transmitted by electronic mail: retention.
Summary: AB 2093 will remove the retention period required by statute or regulation, or established by the Secretary of State pursuant to the State Records Management Act, require a public agency, for purposes of the California Public Records Act, to retain and preserve for at least 2 years every public record, as defined, that is transmitted by electronic mail.
SB 1280 (Monning): Drinking water: consolidation and extension of service: at-risk water systems.
Summary: SB 1280 authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board to order consolidation between a receiving water system and an at-risk water system, as defined, upon receipt of a petition that substantially conforms to the specified-referenced policy adopted by the state board and that is either approved by the water system’s governing body or signed by at least 30% of the households served by the water system. For purposes of that provision, the bill would authorize the state board to contract with a technical assistance provider or appoint an administrator to provide information to a community regarding the petition process, to assist with the preparation of a petition, or to evaluate whether a water system is an at-risk water system.