By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

Glass of waterCalifornia’s rural communities, which often rely on wells and increasingly must contend with contaminated water, are now at the forefront of the incoming governor’s budget.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week, while visiting California’s Central Valley, said that he wants to help communities around the state find clean water sources. A 2018 investigation found that 360,000 Californians, most of whom live in the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert, have drinking water that does not meet state safety standards.

“It’s only day five or six of the administration but, look, the issue of safe drinking water, affordable drinking water, is top of mind,” Newsom told the Modesto Bee. “I made that a point in yesterday’s budget. I made a point to emphasize that it’s a disgrace that in a state as wealthy and resourceful as ours that a million-plus people don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water.”

Newsom’s budget proposal, which includes about $190 million for safe drinking water projects, asks lawmakers to institute a fee to pay for future work. Last year, California’s Legislature considered a fee of 95 cents per month that would have provided about $110 million a year for drinking water projects. The effort failed, but Newsom wants to revive it.

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