Water policy: environmental justice & disadvantaged and tribal communities (AB 2108)
9/12/2022 passed legislature, goes into effect [add!]
This bill adds new sections to the Water Code of California directing the State Water Resources Control Board to “identify issues of environmental justice needs to begin as early as possible in state board or regional board planning, policy, and permitting processes. When adopting water quality control plans or state policies for water quality control, the state board or a regional board must make “concise, programmatic finding on potential environmental justice, tribal impact, and racial equity considerations…”
The state board and each regional board shall do both of the following:
(1) Engage in equitable, culturally relevant community outreach to promote meaningful civil engagement from potentially impacted communities of proposed discharges of waste that may have disproportionate impacts on water quality in disadvantaged communities or tribal communities and ensure that outreach and engagement shall continue throughout the waste discharge planning, policy, and permitting processes.”
Pending appropriation by the Legislature, the State Water Resources Control Board will “hire environmental justice and tribal community coordinator positions solely dedicated to the purpose of achieving, at a minimum, all of the following goals:
(A) Adhering to environmental justice goals, policies, and objectives.
(B) Promoting meaningful civic engagement in the public decision making process.
(C) Informing water quality control plans and state policies for water quality control, and amendments thereto, and statewide, regional, and individual waste discharge requirements or waivers of waste discharge requirements that address water quality impacts that occur disproportionately in disadvantaged communities pursuant to Section 13149.2.
(D) Soliciting community recommendations for future projects to be listed on regional board supplemental environmental project lists.”
Additionally, the state board will do the following, dependent on appropriation of funds:
“(1) Direct resources for training of state board and regional board staff to advance adherence to environmental justice objectives, goals, and policies adopted by the state board and the regional boards.
(2) Establish a community capacity-building stipend program to promote meaningful civic engagement by disadvantaged communities and tribal communities in the state board and regional board decision making processes by providing funding or services that allow members of the public to overcome barriers, such as technology, language, travel, and income, to public participation.
(3) Develop program-specific tools to better identify and prioritize state board and regional board compliance assessment and enforcement actions in disadvantaged communities.
(c) The state board may, through contracts or grants, utilize nonprofit organizations organized for the purpose of addressing environmental justice issues in disadvantaged communities or that work closely with tribal communities to administer all or part of the activities…”
The state board or a regional board planning and policy processes must include:
“(1) A concise summary of the anticipated water quality impact in disadvantaged or tribal communities as a result of the permitted activity or facility, and any environmental justice concerns within the scope of the state board or regional board’s authority previously raised to the applicable board by interested persons with regard to these impacts.
(2) Identification of measures available and within the scope of the state board or regional board’s authority to address the impacts of the permitted activity or facility in a disadvantaged or tribal community.
See the full text for details on considerations related to waste discharge requirements and waivers. This section does not apply to certifications issued pursuant to Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act or enrollments of dischargers under general waste discharge requirements or general waivers of waste discharge requirements.
- Action Agency(ies): State Water Resources Control Board
- Policy Champions: Introduced by assembly members Robert Rivas and Cristina Garcia. Supported by California Coastkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club
- Read the full policy language