fbpx Policy and Advocacy Priorities - California Water Association

Working on Behalf of Members and Their Customers

CWA works with community-based organizations, water advocates, policy makers, and more to help ensure our members’ ability to deliver safe, reliable, high-quality drinking water. To this end, CWA sponsors legislation, monitors regulatory and policy actions, and takes positions on issues of interest to CWA members and their customers.

CWA also serves as a resource for accurate information and expertise about the issues that impact California’s water infrastructure and provides a unified voice for our regulated water utilities throughout California.

Our Priorities

CWA member utilities are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The CPUC establishes rates and terms of service, as well as provides safety and security oversight.  SWRCB oversees regulated and municipal suppliers to ensure that they are complying with all water quality and water supply standards set by the state. CWA engages with these two regulatory authorities to help them understand the work of water utilities and maximize outcomes for utilities and customers alike.

Ensuring public safety is paramount for our utility members, who are prepared to respond to emergencies and safeguard the well-being of customers, employees, and contractors through comprehensive emergency management planning and programs. Additionally, CWA’s utility members provides quality service and support to those affected by natural disasters, particularly residential and small business customers. Our members top priority is to ensure uninterrupted access to safe, clean water during crises.  Our members support and collaborate on public safety policies that address wildfire, pandemic, earthquake, flood, and other natural disasters, and engage with law enforcement, fire safety, emergency communications, and other services like ambulance and disaster preparedness. Protecting the health and safety of customers, communities, and employees is central to our member utilities’ mission.

CWA advocates for increased grant and funding opportunities to support infrastructure development and environmental protections, such as addressing water supply reliability, flood risk, groundwater sustainability, and drought resilience. Federal and state funding are vital for our members to invest in community-based infrastructure and ensure the provision of safe, clean drinking water without imposing higher water bills on customers. CWA emphasizes the importance of inclusive eligibility criteria for grant and loan programs to ensure equitable access for all Californians to these crucial resources.

Infrastructure is pivotal in delivering safe, reliable water to California communities. It serves as the backbone of high-quality water systems, and safeguarding it is crucial for improving water quality, enhancing reliability, and reducing health and safety risks. As climate change exacerbates environmental challenges like droughts and wildfires, meeting both everyday and emergency water needs becomes more imperative. CWA works tirelessly to advance our members’ ability to invest in and support their infrastructure. These investments not only bolster water quality and reliability but also yield significant economic impacts, creating thousands of jobs and ensuring continued access to safe and dependable water service for California customers.

Amidst escalating climate change and heightened drought severity, prioritizing water conservation is paramount. Regulated water utilities serve as active community stewards, advocating for water efficiency and environmentally responsible practices. CWA and our members are committed to implementing conservation and efficiency. CWA engages with policy makers and regulators to ensure the development and implementation of effective policies that help to advance the state’s water conservation goals. These programs include audits and consultations with efficiency experts, providing tailored guidance for water reduction. Additionally, incentive programs offered by our water utility members encourage customers to adopt conservation measures, offering rebates for high-efficiency fixtures and landscaping upgrades. Educational efforts of our members encompass workshops, events, informational materials, school outreach, and water-wise demonstration gardens, empowering customers to make informed choices.

Ensuring the health and safety of Californians is our top priority. Our members work year-round to protect and invest in water systems to guarantee dependable, high-quality drinking water supplies.  Additionally, our members invest millions in capital and operational expenses to test and treat, ensuring water meets the highest-level standards. We fully support the state water board and US EPA in their quest for safe, clean drinking water by providing technical, program, and funding assistance to comply with regulations on contaminants. Our water providers implement extensive quality assurance programs. They proactively identify and treat high-risk contaminants ahead of regulatory mandates, making our water some of the safest in the nation. Collaborating with regulators and policymakers, CWA advocates for a comprehensive understanding of water quality and actions against polluters to ensure they cover cleanup costs.

The majority of CWA’s members consist of small systems, each with fewer than 2000 connections, facing unique challenges in maintaining strong, healthy, and reliable water systems. To support these systems, CWA offers technical and programmatic assistance, grants, and other funding sources, and advocacy to enhance service quality for customers. CWA strongly backs initiatives like the California Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Program, aimed at bolstering local water systems’ ability to provide safe drinking water. SAFER’s objectives include accelerating capital projects, promoting consolidation and service extensions, identifying and assisting at-risk systems, preventing failures in water standards, addressing gaps in safe water supplies, and ensuring access to safe and affordable drinking water for all Californians.

Water accessibility is a fundamental human right, and our members are committed in ensuring customers have access to affordable, safe, clean, and reliable water. With a dedication to delivering top-quality water and exceptional customer service at minimal expense, our members strive to balance investment in utility operations and infrastructure with affordability. Recognizing potential financial hurdles, our members offer dedicated customer service programs tailored to individual circumstances, assisting in lowering water bills and providing necessary customer support. Additionally, CWA advocates for the establishment of permanent federal assistance programs like the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), furthering our commitment to affordability. Pursuing grant funds to offset infrastructure costs, CWA works with our member utilities to ensure sustained affordability for all customers, reinforcing our mission to provide the best water service possible.