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Assembly Bill 2318 to Provide Transparency to State Water Board Investments

Legislation Will Require Reporting of Remediation Investments Derived from Polluter Penalties

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety & Toxic Substances approved Assembly Bill 2318 authored by Assemblymember Diane Papan to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the Cleanup and Abatement Account (CAA) managed by the State Water Board. This bill seeks to address growing concerns surrounding the allocation and utilization of funds intended for the restoration of waterways in communities affected by pollution.

"Many disadvantaged communities around the state have seen water quality issues persist or worsen,” said Assemblymember Papan. “Until these communities receive more funding from the Cleanup and Abatement Account, they will continue to lack the resources to clean up their local waterways."

The federal Clean Water Act, enacted fifty years ago, was enacted to help restore the nation's water bodies and drastically reduce hazardous pollution levels. Since then, California's State and Regional Water Boards have played a pivotal role in enforcing water quality regulations and penalizing violators. One avenue for violators to rectify their actions is through the payment of fines into the Cleanup and Abatement Account.

Historically, a significant portion of the CAA funds were returned to Regional Water Boards to support local cleanup efforts. Yet, in recent years, these allocations have decreased, exacerbating water quality issues in disadvantaged communities across the state.

AB 2318 mandates the State Water Board to publish an annual report detailing the receipts and expenditures of the Cleanup and Abatement Account. This measure will provide transparency and accountability in the allocation of funds, empowering communities and stakeholders with essential information.

"AB 2318 is a modest bill which will require the SWB to return to the practice of routinely publishing the investments funded by polluter paid penalties, providing much needed clarity and information to support accountability that the funds are being spent equitably and wisely,” said Papan.

The bill will next be reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations in the coming weeks.