Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom took major steps towards ensuring all Californians have access to clean drinking water for themselves and their families by signing S.B. 200 into law. The bill establishes a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to help water systems provide an affordable supply of clean drinking water for one-million-plus Californians who still do not have adequate access to safe water.
I applaud Gov. Newsom for his groundbreaking work in this area. All too often, questions of water cleanliness and insecurity are pushed to the periphery in favor of other “big-ticket” issues, such as the economy and healthcare — but the truth is access to clean water is one of the fundamental issues facing Californians. As the fifth-largest economy in the world, we absolutely cannot abide over a million of our own citizens drinking unsafe sources of water. As both a matter of basic human rights and environmental preservation, doing so is simply unacceptable.
I know the importance of securing access to clean drinking water first-hand because I’ve done so firsthand — right here in Orange County. As a Congresswoman, ensuring my District had access to clean water was a top priority. Throughout my time in the House, I was proud to secure over $400 million in funding for various water purification and preservation systems across Orange County — the most notable being the Groundwater Replenishment System. I worked hard to ensure this innovative 140,000 water recycling project had the funding it needed to get off the ground. And because of these efforts, North Orange County is now the only completely water-secure area in all of California — a fact that I sincerely hope will change, owing to Governor Newsom’s recent policy moves.
It shouldn’t take extensive red tape and bureaucratic hoops to get people the drinking water they need to live — it should just be plain common sense. Once again, I commend Governor Newsom for recognizing this and doing the right thing by moving to make sure every Californian is drinking clean, safe water for years to come.