Clean water advocates want state leaders to create a safe and affordable drinking water fund for hundreds of communities throughout California.
One idea is to impose a fee on nitrates, commonly found in fertilizers, to fund clean, affordable water. Nitrates can lead to cancer when ingested in large amounts over many years.
Laurel Firestone, Community Water Center cofounder and codirector, acknowledges similar efforts have stalled in the past but hopes this year will be different.
"The single largest barrier to ensuring access to safe drinking water is a reliable funding source," Firestone says. "That is a big political lift. It's going to require a two-thirds vote and so it really takes strong state leadership to get this done."
State regulators say roughly 400 disadvantaged communities have received unsafe water for more than a year, and some for a decade or more.
Advocates say the Central Valley, low-income communities and Latinos are disproportionately affected.
The State Water Board will look at affordable ways to provide safe drinking water to low-income Californians and disadvantaged communities on Wednesday.