SB 403 (regarding consolidation)

9/23/2021, law passed

This Act amends California’s Health and Safety Code to require the State Water Resources Control Board, before ordering consolidation or extension of service, to consult with several different entities, including the “potentially receiving water system and all public water systems in the chain of distribution of the potentially receiving water system… and any groundwater sustainability agency in a basin that provides groundwater supply, in whole or in part, to the affected area.”

The bill requires the state board to conduct “outreach to ratepayers and residents served by the at-risk water system, including identifiable local community groups. These outreach efforts shall gauge community support for consolidation of the at-risk water system.” They must also consider any specified petitions submitted by members of a disadvantaged community served by the at-risk water system.

It further directs the state board to “prioritize consolidation of an at-risk water system that has historically been overburdened by pollution and industrial development or faced other environmental justice hurdles.”

Affordability Protections:

“The consolidated water system shall not increase charges on existing customers of the receiving water system solely as a consequence of the consolidation or extension of service unless the customers receive a corresponding benefit.”

“The receiving water system shall not charge any fees to, or place conditions on, customers of the subsumed water system that it does not charge to, or impose on, new customers that are not subject to the consolidation with the receiving water system.”

The Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability supported the bill, explaining that it aligns with California’s Human Right to Water and ensures that communities at risk of water contamination will be able to connect to water systems that supply clean and safe drinking water.

  • Action Agency(ies): California State Water Resources Control Board
  • Policy Champions: Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, Community Water Center, Clean Water Action, and more
  • Read the full policy language

Additional Resources