$5 Million Fund Established by Fenner Valley Water Authority and Cadiz, Inc. for Water Quality Investments in Disadvantaged Communities

By on October 5, 2018
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A $5 million fund has been established and is dedicated to providing assistance to eligible small water systems pursuing water quality improvements in Southern California. The Southern California Clean Water Fund (SCCWF) has been created by the Fenner Valley Water Authority (FVWA) and underwritten by Cadiz Inc. FVWA will administer the fund, which is designed to be accessed by small water systems that serve disadvantaged communities in counties across Southern California.

“Extensive state and national research reflects that disadvantaged communities experience disproportionately poor delivery of basic services,” said Betty Olson, Ph.D., chair of the Board of Directors for Fenner Valley Water District. “Small water systems that service these communities can often suffer from poor water quality and water supply shortages, therefore solutions are needed to help them better serve customers. This new fund will help small water systems deliver clean, safe and affordable water in their communities.”

The Fenner Valley Water Authority is a joint powers authority comprised of Fenner Valley Mutual Water Company, a non-profit California mutual water company, consisting of water providers participating in the Cadiz Water Project and Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD). Cadiz Inc. is currently developing the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project, a public-private partnership, to increase Southern California’s reliable water supplies by conserving groundwater presently lost to evaporation in eastern San Bernardino County. The Project aims to deliver new water to 400,000 people.

The Clean Water Fund has been designed to help small water systems in disadvantaged communities and severely disadvantaged communities develop, invest in and maintain water treatment systems that provide clean, safe and affordable water to their customers. These “Eligible Small Water Systems” must serve  disadvantaged communities (DACs) and Severely Disadvantaged Communities (SDACs) in Southern California, defined as a community whose median household income (“MHI”) is less than 80% or less than 60%of statewide MHI, respectively.

The Clean Water Fund will reserve $3 million for use by Eligible Small Water Systems located in San Bernardino County with the remaining $2 million available to Eligible Small Water Systems located in any county in Southern California (San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles, Imperial, or Ventura Counties) that receives water from the Cadiz Water Project. These funds are designed to be leveraged in conjunction with state and federal grants and loans to develop and implement water treatment systems that provide clean, safe and affordable water in local communities.

According to the specifics of the Clean Water Fund, Eligible Small Water Systems will be invited to submit applications in 2019 and funds will be disbursed upon implementation of the Cadiz Water Project. However, any disbursements of funds earmarked for San Bernardino County will first be approved by the county. The FVWA will administer the new Southern California Clean Water Fund in coordination with wholesale water agencies in affected areas.

California has imposed innovative requirements for clean water standards including Proposition 68, passed in June 2018, but only limited funds are available to ensure the State’s goal of clean water for all can be implemented. Not all water providers have that option, especially those that serve disadvantaged communities.

To improve outcomes for all, Cadiz has committed to dedicate funds to serve as a private partner in state and local water quality goals. California is working to make the state a leader in clean water for all. Cadiz has funded the Clean Water Fund to help the state in meeting this goal and to specifically assist small water systems serving DACs and SDACs.

“Cadiz Inc. had resources to invest into research and development and was able to cost-effectively treat its groundwater. Not all water providers have that option, including those in disadvantaged communities,” said Scott Slater, CEO of Cadiz Inc.