A Press Release from the office of State Senator Melissa Hurtado
Today, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) introduced SB 1219— State Water Resiliency and Modernization Act — to reimagine water management in the 21st century— that works to create a sustainable water system prioritizing preservation and sustainability for all of California by building a Blue Ribbon Commission, and dissolving the current Water Board.
“Water impacts every facet of our life,” said Senator Hurtado. “Californians are feeling the rise in prices for essentials like water, food and energy. As prices drastically increase due to inflation, we must look to ways to reduce costs. We in the Central Valley have been at the forefront of these concerns for a while. We feel the impacts and suffer the consequences long before many across California do. We need to focus on better water management, and true accountability. And modernizing our water system will do just that. We need government agencies that work for the people; as they’re intended to, and Californians deserve the ability to make decisions surrounding our state’s number one resource—water. By eliminating the State Water Resources Control Board, we are giving power to those who their policies most greatly impact, and are reimagining water management in the 21st Century.”
“I am proud to co-author this bill that will help California navigate our worst drought since the late 1800’s through smart water management systems that prioritize water conservation and replenishment efforts to aid our most affected communities. I thank Senator Hurtado for her leadership in ensuring every Californian has access to safe and clean water,” says co-author Senator Cortese (D-Silicon Valley)
A number of agencies manage California’s water, each have their own responsibilities. Two such agencies are the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency. Governor Brown founded California’s Natural Resources Agency in 1961. Its main responsibility is to ensure the proper and safe usage of California’s natural and historic resources. California’s Environmental Protection Agency was founded in 1991, with the related goal of limiting environmental pollution. Both agencies maintain responsibility for the sustainability and protection of California’s resources, including water. As California experiences changes in our climate, and has seen an increase in the number of dry years and droughts, there is a need for a 21st Century solution—one that the antiquated Board has been unable to provide. Adapting to the existing needs, and modernizing the administration to provide adequate solutions to help meet these changes is much needed.
The devastating drought across the state and in the Central Valley has increased the price of agricultural products, affecting the food system as a whole. Many towns across California have faced massive water curtailments, and have seen their wells run dry forcing them to jump through hoops and hurdles in order receive just enough water to live. Safe drinking water and freshwater resources are central to the health of California’s economy and communities, but as it stands now, the State Water Resources Control Board is failing to manage water adequately for future generations. The State Water Resources Control Board has become a bureaucratic barrier for Californians.
As it stands now, the State Water Resources Control Board holds full control over water rights, water transfers, regulation regarding storm water discharges, irrigation discharges, water curtailments, and water transfers. Members of the board are appointed and not elected—and have the power to raise fees and limit water access with a simple vote often times leaving fee-payers and those dependent on the water they control out of the process and without a voice.
SB 1219 will prioritize the preservation and sustainability of California’s water systems by building a Blue Ribbon Commission that provides a vision, statutes and recommendations on how best to ensure the sustainability of water usage that allows our environment and ourselves to thrive. The commission will consist of members from each relevant agency, as well as members of the Senate and Assembly. This bill will also dissolve the water board, helping to give Californians a voice in who raises their fees, and manages their water.