Gray Proposes Package of Water Reform Legislation

Friday, February 15, 2019

For Immediate Release: February 15, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021


Gray Proposes Package of Water Reform Legislation


(Sacramento) – Just days after Governor Newsom appointed a new Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board and as the Governor visits the Central Valley to sign emergency drinking water and wildfire legislation, Assemblymember Gray introduced a package of water reform bills designed to rein in unaccountable bureaucracy, increase legislative oversight, and prepare California for the impacts of climate change on water infrastructure.


“Governor Newsom is reconstructing relationships between the state and water users which fell apart under the prior administration,” said Gray. “We need to reform the system that let us get so far off track. For the last decade, the state has been allowed to ignore the priorities of farmers, disadvantaged communities, and rural parts of California. There has been a disconnect between the needs of the people and the actions of the state which came about because bureaucrats were not held accountable. This package of reforms brings the public back into the decision-making process by imposing accountability, prioritizing the needs of the state’s most vulnerable populations, and requiring California to make real improvements to our aging water infrastructure.”


AB 636 requires the Legislature to hold a hearing to review proposals of the State Water Board which result in significant environmental harm before those proposals can go into effect. The update to the Bay-Delta Plan will decimate multiple groundwater basins, fallow thousands of acres of productive farmland, and jeopardize the drinking water supplies of over a million people. Under current law, the State Legislature has no formal role in approving or denying this devastating proposal.


AB 637 prohibits the State Water Board from approving the sacrifice of drinking water supplies in disadvantaged communities. Under the Bay-Delta Plan, the State Water Board currently balances the adverse impacts their plan will have on the quality of drinking water in communities like Dos Palos, Planada, and Santa Nella against the benefits of increased flow in the Delta. Such a scheme would be prohibited under this bill.


AB 638 requires the state to take into account the impacts climate change will have on water reliability, including accounting for the projected shrinkage of the Sierra Nevada snowpack which acts as California’s largest natural reservoir. The state would be required to identify projects and strategies to mitigate adverse impacts losses and incorporate those strategies into planning efforts going forward.


“We have a new Governor who is demonstrating a commitment to move the water wars forward in a productive way,” continued Gray. “This package of reforms will serve as a powerful backstop. The state has been all too ready to make sacrifices in rural California for the benefit of the coast. This puts us back on level footing and gives everyone a seat at the table.”