Cástulo Estrada, Vice President of the Board of Directors of Coachella Valley Water District, has been appointed to the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Advisory Group, as announced by the State Water Resources Control Board.
The new advisory group will help to identify needs and set funding priorities for implementing the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund established by Senate Bill 200. The fund provides $130 million a year, for 10 years, to assist the approximately 1 million Californians who do not have access to safe and affordable drinking water.
“We have a tremendous amount of need in the Eastern Coachella Valley and this is an important opportunity to address those needs,” Estrada said. “I am committed to finding long-term solutions to ensure safe and affordable drinking water for our community by securing funding for projects to address the needs and to expedite the projects we have already identified.”
Estrada, since being elected to the CVWD Board of Directors in 2014, has made providing safe drinking water to Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) his top priority. A native of the area, he has personal experience with this issue.
“As an author of SB 200, I am proud to congratulate Coachella Valley Water District Board Vice President, Castulo Estrada, on his appointment to the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Advisory Group. Along with Sergio Carranza of Pueblo Unido, our Coachella Valley will now, significantly, hold two positions on this newly formed body. While advancing this state policy, we made certain that the voices of underserved communities like ours would have a seat at the table,” stated Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife.
Over the course of the last two years, as SB 200 was being developed, Estrada was called upon many times to testify or provide expertise.
“I am extremely grateful that our perspective was taken into consideration during this process and I hope to continue to provide that insight,” Estrada said. “I look forward to continuing to work on this issue and representing the needs of the Coachella Valley to others in the State.”
CVWD has done substantial work on DAC issues including participating in a pilot outreach program for the state. In 2016, CVWD, with the help of Estrada, formed the DAC Infrastructure Task Force to address water-related needs in the Eastern Coachella Valley. The task force includes CVWD, the County of Riverside, various funding agencies, various non-government organizations, non-profit housing organizations, Coachella Valley Unified School District, the Desert Recreation District, the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, and local and state government representatives including Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. The task force’s mission is to bring safe, affordable drinking water and wastewater and flood control services to historically disadvantaged Coachella Valley regions through strategic planning, funding procurement, needs assessment and reporting – all in collaboration with community members and stakeholders.
The task force has identified and prioritized 83 small, private water systems that are eligible to consolidate with CVWD’s domestic water system. Many of the small water systems have elevated levels of arsenic, nitrates and fluoride. The next steps will include acquiring grant funding to finish the design of the two highest-ranked projects and for the construction of facilities needed to consolidate those projects.
More information on the advisory board is available here.
The Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.