In 2016, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted a Human Right to Water Resolution making the Human Right to Water (HR2W), as defined in Assembly Bill 685, a primary consideration and priority across all of the state and regional boards’ programs. The HR2W recognizes that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking and sanitary purposes.”
In 2019, to advance the goals of the HR2W, California passed Senate Bill 200 (SB 200), which enabled the State Water Board to establish the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Program. SB 200 established a set of tools, funding sources, and regulatory authorities that the State Water Board harnesses through the SAFER Program to help struggling water systems sustainably and affordably provide safe drinking water.
The annual Drinking Water Needs Assessment (Needs Assessment) required to be carried out by the SAFER Program provides foundational information and recommendations to guide this work. The Needs Assessment is comprised of Risk Assessment, Affordability Assessment, and Cost Assessment components. Development of the Needs Assessment consisted of stages between September 2019 and March 2021, each of which were detailed in publicly-available white papers and presented at public webinars. The public feedback was incorporated into the final methodology and results.