Looking back, we at the California Coastkeeper Alliance (CCKA) are thrilled with our accomplishments in 2018. California is making progress on clean water and healthy rivers, despite a hostile federal government and the devastation wrought by last year’s wildfires and mudslides throughout the state. Looking forward, we remain hopeful that California will continue to set the pace to pursue climate resilient policies statewide and combat federal rollbacks in 2019.
Gavin Newsom has been sworn in as California’s 40th Governor. As Governor, Gavin Newsom has the opportunity to lead this resistance both nationally and right here in his own front yard. By taking these salient and needed actions to preserve California’s water quality and supply, Governor Newsom can protect California’s water resources and promote water security throughout the state:
Promote Integrated Water Management to Reuse Ocean Wastewater Discharges and Prevent Ocean Acidification Hot Spots. Most California communities use water once then dispose of it like waste, at tremendous environmental and economic cost. Today’s water recycling technology allows us to treat and reuse those wasteful discharges, which helps reduce energy consumption, increase water security, and meet California’s constitutional obligations. California should work toward eliminating treated ocean wastewater discharges and instead reuse them and put them to a beneficial use as water supply.
Safe and Affordable Drinking Water for All, Without Handouts for Chronic Polluters. California should establish an ongoing, sustainable Safe Drinking Water program funded by a variety of water use and waste disposal fees. This program, however, should not be funded by a “pay to pollute” scheme that allows growers to continue their destructive practice of over-nitrate application that will destroy groundwater basins for future generations.
Make Enforcement of Clean Water Laws a Mission and Source of Pride for California Water Boards. Governor Newsom can strengthen California’s clean water laws on the ground and protect the very water we rely on to swim, fish, and drink by increasing the budget for water quality enforcement and requiring Regional Boards to establish water quality enforcement goals and priorities.
While Governor Newsom sets up his administration, the California Legislature is not sitting idle. Last month, Senator Toni Atkins – first female Pro Tem for the California Senate – announced the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019 (“Preserve California”) as Senate Bill 1 for the 2019 Legislative Session. This bill is designed to protect environmental, labor, and consumer protection standards against federal rollbacks. It sends a powerful and clear message to both our new Governor and the federal government – California will not stand by as foundational laws for our public health and safety are dismantled.
Legislators are preparing numerous bills centered around ocean resiliency, comprehensive single-use plastic reduction, and importantly, funding for safe drinking water. California Coastkeeper Alliance looks forward to engaging fully with the Governor’s Office and the Legislature throughout 2019 to protect California’s water resources and our communities – now and into the future.
Policy Analyst Kaitlyn Kalua represents CCKA and its member Waterkeepers in state regulatory and legislative forums to advance statewide water policy.