Vice President Kamala Harris was right on point last year when she said that clean water is a fundamental human right. President Biden has put those words into action by signing an executive order establishing a White House council on environmental justice.
Every Californian has a right to clean, reliable affordable drinking water. As the California Chapter of the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States, the California League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) shares this administration’s belief that investing in modern water infrastructure is a starting point to ensure the state meets this obligation.
This requires an “all-of-the-above” strategy that addresses enhancing our water infrastructure hardware and software as well as building needed new facilities like wastewater recycling, stormwater capture and seawater desalination.
California has the world’s largest reservoir in the Pacific Ocean to the west. We have the technology, the ability and – quite frankly – the obligation to consider ocean water as a new water supply that can finally free California forever from the threat of drought. The electorate recognizes the need for desalination.
According to a 2020 Public Policy Institute of California survey, 68% of registered voters believe more seawater desalination plants should be built. California has robust environmental regulations in pace to guide the approval of seawater desalination plants, but to date the state has permitted only one large-scale desalination plant.
This one drinking water facility has already produced and delivered 68 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water to San Diego County homes and businesses at a cost of less than one penny per gallon. The plant has reliably operated 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week through every crisis imaginable from rolling blackouts and wildfires to the COVID-19 pandemic.
California’s future has always been inexorably tied to water reliability. Our Latino population is the fastest growing demographic group in the state. We now make up 40% of the state’s population and we deserve the same opportunities to succeed that the last generation of Californians had. That success – whether it is in business, farming, or the construction trades – has the baseline requirement of an affordable, reliable water supply.
The real threat to the economically disadvantaged and communities of color is climate change and its effect on the environment and our water resources. In an effort to fight climate change, Gov. Newsom’s administration released its 2020 Water Resiliency Portfolio. Seawater desalination is identified as an important strategy in that portfolio. Read more here.
“Desalination must be included in any discussion of future water sources for Orange County."
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