All California residents should have access to safe and affordable drinking water. Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia is on a mission to ensure this becomes reality.

He has been consistently beating the drum and the beat is becoming louder with each passing day.

Within days of securing an overwhelming victory in the Nov.6 California General Election, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia was ready to get immediately back to work laser-focused on the issues, especially water.

“The issues don’t change for us,” Garcia told Uken Report in November. “We have to continue to grow our regional economy. We have to roll out our plans for the Salton Sea. We have to address the issues of clean water and support our farming communities. I look forward to building on what we have started.”

About a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom was sworn into office, Garcia, D-Coachella, had the governor’s ear to outline his list of priorities for the 56th Assembly District. Topping the Assemblymember’s list was the universal right to safe and affordable drinking water.

Garcia also expressed his enthusiasm for the Governor’s initial 2019-2020 California Budget proposal – particularly his inclusion of a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.

“I am pleased to see the Governor come on board as a strong champion for California drinking water,” Garcia continued. “I look forward to working with him as well as Sen. (Bill) Monning to tackle our state’s deep-seated infrastructure disparities and ensure that safe, affordable drinking water is accessible to all residents.”

As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife, Assemblymember Garcia vowed in January to convene a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water joint informational hearing in early February as one of his priorities.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, Garcia, D-Coachella, made good on that promise.

Lawmakers Rally for Safe, Low-cost Drinking Water

Members at the dais during the Safe Drinking Water Hearing

Garcia; Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) Environmental and Toxic Materials Committee Chair; and Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation Chair convened a joint informational hearing on safe and affordable drinking water.

The hearing created a platform for legislators, stakeholders, and advocates to come together to explore potential policy solutions to this matter.

“All Californians, regardless of zip code, deserve safe and affordable drinking water,” Garcia said. “For too long, too many have gone without access to this essential resource. Proud to be collaborating with several of my colleagues in both the Senate and Assembly on potential policy solutions to this crisis. I especially commend the leadership of Senator Monning on this issue. This is a matter of public health urgency for our communities. We cannot afford to delay. Galvanized by Governor Newsom’s support, I am optimistic that we can come together to achieve an equitable, sustainable solution – one that will ensure safe and affordable drinking water for all.”

Hearing Co-Chair Bloom said, “In 2012, California formally and legislatively recognized that water is a fundamental human right. Yet seven years later, too many Californians still live without access to safe and affordable drinking water. We need a sustainable framework to permanently solve this crisis and I am pleased that we are taking on that challenge, once again, this year. I look forward to discussing this complex policy issue and hearing from stakeholders about potential solutions and tradeoffs.”

Lawmakers Rally for Safe, Low-cost Drinking Water

Sen. Bill Monning

Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), a longtime champion of this issue, provided introductory remarks that set the stage for the policy discussion.

“Today’s hearing further highlights the immediate need for a sustainable solution to California’s hidden human rights crisis – the lack of access for the more than 300 communities to safe and affordable drinking water,” Monning said.  “I look forward to working with the Governor, my Senate and Assembly colleagues, and all stakeholders as we continue discussions about how to best achieve a long-term solution to this shameful crisis.”

Representatives from water agencies across the state also lent their expertise as hearing panelists including Coachella Valley Water District, Board Vice President Cástulo R. Estrada. Director Estrada and Assemblymember Garcia both represent the rural communities of the Eastern Coachella Valley and have been working together to address the region’s deep-set infrastructure disparities.

Lawmakers Rally for Safe, Low-cost Drinking Water

Full committee room for Safe Drinking Water Hearing

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here today to bring much-needed attention to the Disadvantage Community issues in the Coachella Valley,” Estrada said in a prepared statement. “We have been working for years to improve the conditions in the eastern Coachella Valley and the only way we will solve those problems is by collaborating on solutions.  The hearing today was a great step forward in the effort to work together to provide safe, reliable, affordable drinking water to those who need it.”

Garcia remains committed to continuing discussions with his colleagues and all stakeholders such as water agencies, agricultural partners, and environmental justice advocates to identify a sustainable solution that will guarantee equitable access to this essential resource, according to a news release.

Garcia represents the 56th district, which comprises the cities and communities of Blythe, Brawley, Bermuda Dunes, Calexico, Calipatria, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Indio, Mecca, Oasis, North Shore, Salton Sea, Thermal, Thousand Palms, and Westmorland.