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.
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.