(Sacramento, CA) – This week, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s (D-Coachella) AB 2877, Tribal Water Infrastructure, celebrated successful passage in the California State Assembly and will advance to the Senate. The legislation would dedicate Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program resources for California Native American tribes and importantly, ensure that a limited waiver of tribal sovereignty is not required for a tribe to utilize these grants.
In 2019, Assemblymember Garcia’s SB 200, Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, allowed California to establish the SAFER program. While Assemblymember Garcia made certain that tribes were eligible for aid under SB 200, difficulties have hindered accessibility for tribal communities. AB 2877 would help eliminate those hurdles and encourage equitable distribution of SAFER program funds for tribes.
“We must ensure that our Native American communities receive equitable access to California’s safe, affordable drinking water investments without jeopardizing tribal sovereignty. After the hardships experienced in my district, we are taking further action to ensure our tribal communities can benefit from the SAFER program we created. AB 2877 will help us enhance tribal cooperation with our state’s water board and make certain that we can deliver water resources where they are needed,” stated Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.
“For too long underserved tribal communities like ours have struggled to obtain state funding to address infrastructure disparities. AB 2877 will dedicate SAFER program funds for tribes while eliminating unjust barriers that have prevented us from securing our share of these vital water infrastructure resources,” said Tribal Chairman Thomas Tortez, Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians. “We thank Assemblymember Garcia for championing legislation to improve safe drinking water access for tribes while protecting tribal sovereignty.”
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) serves as the chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy. He represents the 56th district, which comprises the cities and communities of Blythe, Brawley, Bermuda Dunes, Calexico, Calipatria, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Indio, Mecca, Oasis, North Shore, Salton Sea, Thermal, Thousand Palms, and Westmorland.