For small communities like Orosi in Tulare County, getting the funds to improve their water infrastructure to be able to provide clean drinking water to their citizens can be a battle.
However, that might not longer be the case for those communities.
Early this month, Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, introduced a bill designed to help small, disadvantaged communities seek funding for construction of clean drinking water infrastructure.
The bill, said Perea in a press release, would remove some of the obstacles small communities face when applying for state funding.
Assembly Bill 115, if passed, would allow multiple towns to apply for state funds as a single applicant.
According to Perea's office, between 2009 and 2012 the community of Orosi, in conjunction with other surroundings towns that were not able to apply on their own, worked on an application for state funding to improve their drinking water systems. Because of state regulations that disqualified the town of Orosi as well as the other communities, the application was denied.
"We have to find ways to help them get funding to fix the problem instead of putting up barriers," said Perea.
The Regionalization of Small Community Water System Act would authorize the California Department of Public Health to fund projects where multiple communities apply for funding together as a single applicant.
Calling it a vital bill, María Herrera from Community Water Center said the bill would make "sure the process works for those communities."
The water center works with disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquín Valley that have drinking water problems.
"We want to make sure those funds are accessible to the community that need it the most," Herrera said. "The good thing about this bill, it allows small communities to come together."
Herrera said many of those communities struggle to maintain operations and provide safe drinking water.
She said the bill would remove barriers for those small communities that don't have a government structure, such a water board or other overseeing agencies to apply for the grand.
"This will make the different for people in those communities to have drinking water or not," Herrera said. "Its going to make a huge different for the community."
"(The bill) shares great promise in advancing the quality of life for hard working Latino families in the San Joaquin Valley and in California in general," said Rey León, executive director and founder of the San Joaquín Valley Latino Environmental Advancement & Policy Project.
According to the 2010 Census, 87 percent of Orosi's population is Latino.
"It is long overdue, but if this bill passes it would mean a great deal for not only the economy of farm working families, but also the health of the many unincorporated communities," León said.
Another bill to improve water quality in the Central Valley was also introduced early this month by state Sen. Michael J. Rubio, D-Shafter.
SB 117 would consolidate the water quality responsibilities in California under a single agency and would provide greater local control by ensuring that the state is more responsive to the water quality needs of impacted communities, particularly those affected in the Central Valley. These communities suffer from an ongoing lack of access to potable water due to groundwater contamination.
"When hard-working residents and even schools in communities like Cutler-Orosi or Kettleman City have to buy bottle water, something is wrong at the state level," Rubio stated in a press release.
The bill will consolidate water quality responsibilities under one roof at the State Water Resources Control Board. Currently this job is done by the California Department of Public Health. The bill will increase accountability by ensuring the Safe Drinking Water Act becomes a reality for all Californians.
Perea also introduced a similar bill to Rubio's in the Assembly. AB 145 would move all drinking water programs from the Department of Public Health to the State Water Resources Control Board.
According to Perea's office it will create a strategy to ensure safe drinking water for California residents.
Perea said the move of water programs would give "rural communities access to safe drinking water faster."