All State Policies: California
Below are short descriptions of relevant state agencies/departments by policy topic, followed by more information on specific policies.
Drinking Water: California State Water Resources Control Board’s mission is to “preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water for the protection of the environment, public health, and all beneficial uses, and to ensure proper water resource allocation and efficient use, for the benefit of present and future generations.” The five-member Board is authorized to implement the federal Clean Water Act. The Water Boards are housed within state government and are part of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA). The Division of Drinking Water (DDW) regulates public drinking water systems. “The State Water Board works in coordination with the nine Regional Water Boards to preserve, protect, enhance, and restore water quality. The State Water Board sets statewide water quality standards, issues statewide general permits, conducts statewide surface and groundwater monitoring and assessment, and issues orders for cleaning up contaminated sites.”
Environmental Justice: California’s environmental justice policies are regulated and implemented by a number of agencies, most prominently the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and the Office of Planning and Research. CalEPA reports the progress of the objectives of the Intra-Agency Environmental Justice Strategy every three years to the Governor and legislature. The Environmental Justice Task Force received permanent funding in the 2016 Budget Act to ensure multi-agency compliance and enforcement. Members of the Task Force include: California Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board, Department of Toxic Substances Control, State Water Resources Control Board, Department of Pesticide Regulation, CalRecycle, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health, California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association, Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPA) Forum Board, and local Enforcement Agencies. In 2018, Attorney General Becerra established a Bureau of Environmental Justice, whose mission is to “to protect people and communities that endure a disproportionate share of environmental pollution and public health hazards.”
Open Water Data: California State Water Resources Control Board’s mission is to “preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water for the protection of the environment, public health, and all beneficial uses, and to ensure proper water resource allocation and efficient use, for the benefit of present and future generations.” The five-member Board is authorized to implement the federal Clean Water Act. The Water Boards are housed within state government and are part of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA). “The State Water Board works in coordination with the nine Regional Water Boards to preserve, protect, enhance, and restore water quality. The State Water Board sets statewide water quality standards, issues statewide general permits, conducts statewide surface and groundwater monitoring and assessment, and issues orders for cleaning up contaminated sites.”
Bolstering CWA Protections
This portfolio was created in response to Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, and creates a framework to address water challenges related to disruptions, climate-related shocks, and necessary adaptations. Four broad approaches are identified: 1) Maintain and diversify water supplies; 2) protect and enhance natural systems; 3) build connections; and 4) be prepared. The portfolio is not a binding, enforceable document, but does outline more than 100 separate detailed actions to “ensure California water systems work for our communities, our economy, and our environment. The Administration will work with the Legislature and stakeholders to make progress on the actions. These actions will be implemented to the extent resources are available.”
Amends existing Health and Safety Code by modifying the authority of the consolidation or extension of service by a water system, if a disadvantaged community, in whole or in part, is reliant on domestic wells that consistently fail to provide an adequate supply of safe drinking water. Requires the State Water Resources Control Board to hold at least one public meeting at the initiation of this process in a place as close as feasible to the affected areas.
Safe and Affordable Drinking Water (SADW) Fund: Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Program (SB 200)
Established the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund in the State Treasury to help water systems provide an adequate and affordable supply of water in both the near and long terms. The State Water Board administers the SADW Fund through its Division of Financial Assistance, the Division of Drinking Water implements the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act. The bill, starting in fiscal year 2020-2021, would require 5% of the annual proceeds of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (up to $130 million) to be deposited into the SADW Fund. Funds will support local assistance to “fund grants, loans, contracts, or services to help water systems provide safe and affordable drinking water.” The bill guarantees funding for 10 years. SB 200 also established an advisory group to aid in meeting the purposes of the fund expenditure plan, with 19 appointed members representing public water systems, technical assistance providers, local agencies, nonprofits, residents from disadvantaged communities, state small water systems, and domestic wells, “the public”. According to the SAFER Policy Implementation Fact Sheet, three metrics will be used to measure the success of the Fund Expenditure Plan. 1) number of communities and schools served with interim sources of safe drinking water, 2) number of communities and schools that have preliminary planning assistance projects completed, and 3) number of communities and schools that have long-term solutions completed.
The Executive Order directed applicable agencies to develop a Water Resilience Portfolio for the 21st century, embodying these principles:
a. Prioritize multi-benefit approaches that meet multiple needs at once.
b. Utilize natural infrastructure such as forests and floodplains.
c. Embrace innovation and new technologies.
d. Encourage regional approaches among water users sharing
e. Incorporate successful approaches from other parts of the world.
f. Integrate investments, policies and programs across state
g. Strengthen partnerships with local, federal and tribal governments,
water agencies and irrigation districts, and other stakeholders
AB 72 is an act to amend the State Budget Act of 2018. $5,000,000 of the budget was made available to the State Water Resources Control Board to provide grants or contracts for drinking water testing for lead at licensed child care centers, remediation of lead in plumbing and drinking water fixtures, and technical assistance for licensed child care providers to apply for testing and remediation.
SB 998 outlines the requirements for urban and community water systems to inform customers of delinquent water bills, details contact requirements, and states that if a bill is appealed by a resident, the water system shall not discontinue service while the appeal is pending. “An urban and community water system shall not discontinue residential service for nonpayment until a payment by a customer has been delinquent for at least 60 days. No less than seven business days before discontinuation of residential service for nonpayment, an urban and community water system shall contact the customer named on the account by telephone or written notice.” Discontinuation of residential service for nonpayment shall not occur if (1) The customer, or a tenant of the customer, submits to the urban and community water system the certification of a primary care provider… that discontinuation of residential service will be life threatening to, or pose a serious threat to the health and safety of, a resident of the premises where residential service is provided. (2) The customer demonstrates that he or she is financially unable to pay for residential service within the normal billing cycle. (3) The customer is willing to enter into an amortization agreement, alternative payment schedule, or a plan for deferred or reduced payment.
The Act applies only to the newly defined “urban and community water systems” which are defined as public water systems that supply water to more than 200 service connections. Compliance of the Act began in 2020 (For those who serve more than 3,000 service connections and any PUC-regulated systems, they must comply with the Act on and after February 1, 2020. Urban and community water systems not regulated by the PUC with less than 3,000 service connections must comply on April 1, 2020).
Amends sections 116681 and 116682 and add Section 116686 to the Health and Safety Code, relating to water. The act authorizes the state board to order the extension of service to an area that does not have access to an adequate supply of safe drinking water so long as the extension of service is an interim extension of service in preparation for consolidation. Existing law, for these purposes, defines “disadvantaged community” to mean a disadvantaged community that is in an unincorporated area or is served by a mutual water company. The consolidation may be physical or operational. The act outlines who needs to be informed before, during, and after the process of consolidation, including the public.
Assembly Bill 401 was added to the Water Code (Section 189.5), and directed the Water Quality Control Board to develop a plan for a statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program by 2018. The Act directs the Board to develop a plan for the funding and implementation of the Program. Low-income is defined as “a household with income that is equal to or no greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline level.”
This bill provided the State Water Resources Control Board the authority to incentivize and mandate consolidation of failing water systems. “Where a public water system, or a state small water system within a disadvantaged community, consistently fails to provide an adequate supply of safe drinking water, the State Water Resources Control Board may order consolidation with a receiving water system as provided… The consolidation may be physical or operational. The State Water Resources Control Board may also order the extension of service to an area that does not have access to an adequate supply of safe drinking water so long as the extension of service is an interim extension of service in preparation for consolidation.”
Water Code Section 106.3
every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes
Signed into law 9/27/2019
This bill amended the Government Code, revising the definition of “environmental justice.” It also amended the factors to be considered in the review of a proposal, including population and population density, assessed valuation, the need for organized community services, and a regional transportation plan, among other factors.
““Environmental justice” means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people of all races, cultures, incomes, and national origins, with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
“Environmental justice” includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(A) The availability of a healthy environment for all people.
(B) The deterrence, reduction, and elimination of pollution burdens for populations and communities experiencing the adverse effects of that pollution, so that the effects of the pollution are not disproportionately borne by those populations and communities.
(C) Governmental entities engaging and providing technical assistance to populations and communities most impacted by pollution to promote their meaningful participation in all phases of the environmental and land use decision-making process.
(D) At a minimum, the meaningful consideration of recommendations from populations and communities most impacted by pollution into environmental and land use decisions.”
Signed into law 9/24/2016
Added to the General Plan Guidelines for cities and counties: “An environmental justice element, or related goals, policies, and objectives integrated in other elements, that identifies disadvantaged communities within the area covered by the general plan of the city, county, or city and county, if the city, county, or city and county has a disadvantaged community. The environmental justice element, or related environmental justice goals, policies, and objectives integrated in other elements, shall do all of the following:
(A) Identify objectives and policies to reduce the unique or compounded health risks in disadvantaged communities by means that include, but are not limited to, the reduction of pollution exposure, including the improvement of air quality, and the promotion of public facilities, food access, safe and sanitary homes, and physical activity.
(B) Identify objectives and policies to promote civil engagement in the public decision-making process.
(C) Identify objectives and policies that prioritize improvements and programs that address the needs of disadvantaged communities.
(2) A city, county, or city and county subject to this subdivision shall adopt or review the environmental justice element, or the environmental justice goals, policies, and objectives in other elements, upon the adoption or next revision of two or more elements concurrently on or after January 1, 2018.”
Signed into law 9/30/2012
The bill required CalEPA to identify disadvantaged communities for investment opportunities using money from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. 25 percent of the available money would go towards projects benefiting disadvantaged communities, with a minimum of 10% to projects located in disadvantaged communities. Directs CalEPA to consider identifying disadvantaged communities based on “geographic, socioeconomic, public health, and environmental hazard criteria, and may include, but are not limited to, either of the following:
(a) Areas disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and other hazards that can lead to negative public health effects, exposure, or environmental degradation.
(b) Areas with concentrations of people that are of low income, high unemployment, low levels of homeownership, high rent burden, sensitive populations, or low levels of educational attainment.”
Since the passage of SB 535, CalEPA has used CalEnviroScreen to identify census tracts that fall within their parameters for a disadvantaged community. The most current Version 4.0 of the CalEnviroScreen includes data on dairies and feedlots to the Groundwater Threats indicator and an indicator of children’s lead risk from housing. In 2016, AB 1550 was passed, making changes to the allocation requirements established by SB 535. It requires that at least 5% of GHG Reduction Fund money goes towards projects within low-income communities or benefiting low-income households, another 5% of funds towards projects that benefit low-income communities that don’t fall within the CalEPA defined disadvantaged community but are within ½ mile of one, and increased the percent of funds for projects in disadvantaged communities from 10 to 25%.
Signed into law 9/27/2002
Established an Environmental Justice Small Grant Program at CalEPA (required CalEPA to adopt regulations for the implementation of the Program). Nonprofits and federally recognized tribal governments are eligible for the grants (max of $20,000), the purpose of which is to address EJ issues in areas adversely affected by environmental pollution and hazards.
Funding may be used to: “Resolve environmental problems through distribution of information. Identify improvements in communication and coordination among agencies and stakeholders in order to address the most significant exposure to pollution. Expand the understanding of a community about the environmental issues that affect their community. Develop guidance on the relative significance of various environmental risks. Promote community involvement in the decision-making process that affects the environment of the community. Present environmental data for the purposes of enhancing community understanding of environmental information systems and environmental information.”
Signed into law 10/11/2001
Required the Office of Planning and Research to adopt guidelines for addressing environmental justice matters in city and county general plans and to hold at least one public hearing before the release of draft guidelines and at least one public hearing after the release. The guidelines should recommend that general plans include methods for planning for the equitable distribution of new public facilities and services, methods to avoid over-concentrating industrial facilities in proximity to schools and residential areas, methods to avoid locating new schools and residential dwellings in proximity to industrial facilities that pose a hazard to human health and safety, methods to promote livable communities.
Established the Office of Planning and Research as the coordinating agency in state government for EJ programs. The bill defined “environmental justice”, directed CalEPA to conduct its programs, policies, and activities as well as enforcement of health and environmental statutes to ensure the fair treatment of all people. Required CalEPA to develop a model environmental justice mission statement for boards, departments, and offices within the agency. Environmental justice defined as, “the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”
Open Water Data
The Open and Transparent Water Data Act, or Assembly Bill 1755, requires that the Department of Water Resources (DWR) “in consultation with the California Water Quality Monitoring Council, the state board, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, in accordance with a specified schedule, to create, operate, and maintain a statewide integrated water data platform that, among other things, would integrate existing water and ecological data information from multiple databases and provide data on completed water transfers and exchanges.”