The Drought Resilient Communities Act (SB 971 (Hertzberg)) was introduced in February 2020 to strengthen drought planning for small and rural communities. Join us in taking action to ensure drought planning policies benefit communities most at risk and prevent catastrophic impacts on drinking water. Visit https://www.communitywatercenter.org/droughtplanning to learn more.
Missed our Feb. 12, 2020 Drinking Water Tool Webinar? Download and watch at home (.mp4 ; 160MB)
If your drinking water comes from a community water system:
Getting involved in the governance of your water:
Every community member holds the power — and the responsibility — to be involved, informed, and engaged with the governance of their water. Community members who understand the role their water providers play, who attend meetings, and who vote, or encourage others to vote, are vital to building effective and accountable water governance. The opportunity for robust community representation and accountability also relies on the residents who choose to run for a water board or city council seat themselves and make their voices heard.
Public drinking water systems, or community water systems, include many kinds of providers including private companies, public districts, cities, etc. The first step to learn who is making decisions about your water is to locate your bill and find the name and phone number for your water provider. The Your Water Data tool found on the homepage can also help you find this information.
Cities can provide water directly or allow another entity to provide water, including private companies. If a city does provide water, it is common for a city to have a public works department to oversee the water system; however, each city can create its own structure. If your city is responsible for providing your drinking water, you can stay informed about decisions that are being made regarding your water by attending and advocating at your local city council meetings.
If you receive your water from a special district, sometimes called Community Services Districts, Public Utilities Districts, or Irrigation Districts, call the number on your water bill and ask for the time and day of the next water board meeting. Go to the water board meeting and ask questions or voice your concerns during the public comment period.
Some resources to support your engagement:
Learning more about water quality:
All public water systems are subject to the state and federal Safe Drinking Water Acts. What that means is that Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs) must be mailed out by July 1st each year for all community water systems. Consumer confidence reports include the following information:
- The source of drinking water (e.g., groundwater wells, surface water treatment plants, etc.);
- The susceptibility to contamination of the local drinking water source (e.g., what types of sources of contamination may threaten the quality of your drinking water supply, such as fertilizer from agricultural fields, dry cleaners, and septic systems);
- The level (or range of levels) of any contaminant found in local drinking water, as well as EPA’s and California’s health-based standard (maximum contaminant level) for comparison;
- The potential health effects of any contaminant detected in violation of an EPA or California health standard, and an accounting of the system’s actions to restore safe drinking water;
- The water system’s compliance with other drinking water-related rules;
To find a copy of your water system’s Consumer Confidence Report, contact your public water system directly (number should be on your water bill). If you do not receive a water bill, contact your local health department or department of public works, and they should be able to direct you to the public water system.
Factsheets for common drinking water contaminants:
If your drinking water comes from a domestic well:
If you are served by your own domestic well, or if you own a well that provides water to others, such as tenants or neighboring homes, then you are solely responsible for the quality of that water and it is important to regularly test your well to make sure that it is safe.
There are no requirements or regulations regarding testing, quality, or reporting of domestic wells under the state and federal Safe Drinking Water Acts with some exceptions, like before a residential property title can be sold. Resources for landlords and tenants with domestic wells:
- Step 1: Before using your domestic well, you should test for all common chemical and biological contaminants. Basic sampling can cost from $100 to $400.
- Step 2: Compare your well testing results to the maximum contaminant levels (MCL). If you find out that bacteria are present or a contaminant is over a maximum contaminant level (MCL), you should immediately notify everyone using your well and look for ways to solve the problem.
- Here is a list of maximum contaminant levels for several known contaminants.
- Step 3: Evaluate your options for short-term solutions.
- Home treatment filters can remove both good and bad substances from your water and depending on your circumstances, filtering your water might not be a good idea. There is no filter that can remove all contaminants, so it is important to know what is in your water. If you have a treatment device, make sure that the filter is changed regularly and that it is properly installed and maintained; otherwise it can be more dangerous than not having one at all. Review these considerations for buying a water filter here.
- Bottled water or buying water from a vended water machine may be good short term options. However, both bottled water and vended water kiosks are regulated and tested a lot less than public water systems so the quality of water may not be as reliable or information may not be as accessible to find.
- Step 4: Evaluate your options for long-term solutions.
- If you live in a domestic well area, one potential option could be to form a community water system with neighboring domestic well owners. The benefits to creating a community water system is that by pooling your resources together, your community could access long-term safe sources of water at a lower cost.
- If you live near an existing community water system, one option would be to consider connecting to that nearby system. Attend your community’s local water board meeting to ask about this possibility.
- Additional resources:
Learning more about water supply vulnerability:
As climate extremes and droughts worsen, it will become even more important to be engaged around conversations of water supply resiliency in your community. Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) are the regional agencies that are developing plans to manage groundwater and where you can learn more about supply resiliency. Here are some ways you can get connected:
- Step 1: Learn more about protecting drinking water in SGMA by reading through CWC’s SGMA resources page.
- Step 2: Find your local GSA by typing your address in the CWC’s Drinking Water Tool. Once on the page, type your address on the top left side and learn what GSA you are part of. Add yourself to your GSA’s interested parties list to receive updates for upcoming events by clicking on your GSA’s website and adding your email. Browse through their website to get caught up to speed and identify meeting times.
- Step 3: Submit a public comment through video or in writing to your GSA. Call on GSAs to include effective Drinking Water Well Impact Mitigation Programs in their sustainability plans to protect drinking water wells.
- Step 4: Participate in groundwater planning meetings in your GSA to advocate on behalf of your community’s drinking water needs. CWC can support you in recording your comment and joining related public meetings or even a local advisory committee. Questions or comments? Please contact the Community Water Center.