Senator Laird Introduces Legislation to Promote Safe Drinking Water

SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, State Senator John Laird (D - Santa Cruz) unveiled Senate Bill 1188 to promote safe and reliable drinking water for Californians by assuring small water systems meet minimum standards of operation.

 “Access to safe and affordable water is a human right that over 900,000 Californians lack,” said Senator Laird. “Senate Bill 1188 helps safeguard this fundamental right by empowering the state to proactively identify and assist small water systems struggling with operational capacity that threatens access to safe, reliable drinking water.”

 SB 1188 establishes minimum standards for Technical, Managerial, and Financial (TMF) capacity for small water systems serving under 10,000 connections. Minimum standards will include commitments such as sufficient revenue reserves, adequate staffing and management, infrastructure reliability, and more. These standards are crucial given that small water systems are more susceptible to operational and capacity challenges due to a lower revenue base that makes it difficult to afford full-time management and technical staff, or afford necessary infrastructure improvements.

 SB188 is intended to prevent future failures of small water systems. The new TMF standards will help small water districts across California avoid failure by ensuring they are operating sustainably, and that their customers are receiving safe, reliable drinking water.

 Small water systems will be required to either demonstrate compliance with the minimum standards, show progress towards compliance, or consider consolidation with a nearby water system that has the ability to meet safe drinking water standards.  

 SB 1188 was introduced in response to unsafe water quality and supply issues plaguing local systems across the 17th District, including the Big Basin Water Company located in Santa Cruz County, which experiences many of the TMF deficiencies addressed in SB 1188. With the implementation of minimum standards included in SB 1188, the state will be able to proactively identify specific challenges within individual water systems that could affect their sustainability. 

 "I have seen the effects failed small water systems have had on my constituents in the 17th District,” said Senator Laird. “The recent failure of Big Basin Water Company is a good example of one that SB 1188 could have prevented. Sadly, there are dozens more small water companies like Big Basin across the state on the brink of collapse. We must do all we can to prevent the burden and undue hardships these failures place on Californians. SB 1188 is a timely and much needed step in this direction."



Senator John Laird represents the 17th State Senate District, encompassing the entirety of Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties, along with portions of Santa Clara and Monterey counties. With a distinguished career in public service spanning four decades, Senator Laird has served as Secretary of the CA Natural Resources Agency, as an Assemblymember, and proudly holds the distinction of being one of the first openly gay mayors in the United States. More information on Senator Laird can be found here.