This week the California Latino Water Coalition has endorsed the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022. They join a growing list of organizations, agencies, municipalities, business groups and politicians that have endorsed this initiative because it offers Californians a future of pure, plentiful and affordable drinking water.
“The California Latino Water Coalition is fully on board with this important initiative and is encouraging all Californians to also support it,” said Mario Santoyo, the organization’s executive director and founder. “This initiative will not only protect nearly a half-million jobs in California agriculture that depend on a stable water supply, but it funds the retrofit and expansion of inadequate and unsafe water systems in underserved communities throughout the state.”
A report released this month by the respected nonprofit Capital & Main noted that the California State Water Board has identified a $4.6 billion funding gap just to fix California’s most at-risk municipal water systems. The report also noted that people living in California’s underserved communities, especially those with higher Black or Latino populations, likely run a greater collective risk of chronic illness from contaminated drinking water than people in other communities.
According to the California Research Bureau, 92 percent of farmworkers working in rural California are Latino. But funding is also required to restore safe drinking water to underserved communities in California’s largest cities. For example, in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where 73 percent of the students are Latino, lead problems in water persist despite years of testing and repairs.
“The effects of climate change are forcing Californians to reckon with the inadequacy of our aging and decaying water infrastructure,” said Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), one of 27 members of the California State Assembly who have endorsed the initiative. “We have lived off the investments of our grandparents and great grandparents for far too long. The Water Infrastructure Funding Act will give us the resources to deliver a clean and reliable water supply for all Californians.”
The centerpiece of the proposed initiative is the requirement to set aside two percent of the state general fund until 5 million acre feet of water per year is produced by a combination of new water projects and new conservation programs. But this inspiring goal is accompanied by a provision of equal importance, a project category eligible for funding that focuses not only on water quantity, but water quality, and water equity. Quoting from the initiative itself (Section 3, subsection (b), part 6), eligible for funding are “projects designed to increase the clean, safe and affordable supply of water to all Californians with emphasis on California’s disadvantaged communities.”
Before even qualifying for the November 2022 ballot, this initiative has already gotten endorsements from urban water agencies and rural farm bureaus, cities, counties, and a diverse group of organizations ranging from taxpayer’s associations to business federations. The campaign is proud to add the California Latino Coalition to that list.
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