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Community Drinking Water to Be Protected Under Bennett Bill

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO) – Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura) and representatives from Community Water Center (CWC) announced legislation today to strengthen the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and protect drinking water supplies for communities. 

“New water wells and groundwater extractions are being approved without adequate analysis of their impact on the drinking water of disadvantaged communities,” said Bennett. “Approval without that analysis can cause significant negative impacts on over-drafted water basins and disadvantaged communities drinking water.” 

"Access to safe and affordable drinking water is a human right that remains unrealized for too many Californians, particularly residents of low-income communities of color that rely on small water systems and domestic wells," said Michael Claiborne, Directing Attorney with Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. "The well permitting process must be strengthened to ensure that new agricultural well drilling is consistent with sustainable groundwater management and will not dewater community and household drinking water wells."

"Without increased state and local oversight, over-pumping of groundwater will continue to cause shallow domestic and community water wells to run dry, threatening the water supply of disadvantaged communities throughout the state and is in direct opposition to the goals of SGMA and the Human Right to Water,” says Community Water Center Executive Director Susana De Anda. “Given what we know about the future of our water in California and the challenges of Climate Change, there is no excuse for us to leave our communities in a situation where their drinking water supplies are stolen from underneath their feet."

AB 2201 would require groundwater sustainability agencies to establish a permitting process for groundwater extraction facilities, and allow community input, to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water.

Recently, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order that had similar intention to protect water access.  This action is important, but as the EO is specific to the current drought, it is in the best interests of vulnerable communities across the state that AB 2201 is enacted as permanent policy that will help with this problem in the long term.