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Education and Public Outreach

Environmental Justice

The State Water Resources Control Board/Regional Water Quality Control Boards (the Water Boards) are establishing an Environmental Justice (EJ) Program to promote and ensure public outreach, participation and education regarding meetings, hearings and activities for all Californians. Through an established policy, the Water Boards will provide a transparent process for communities, local governments, Tribes and any interested group to learn of and participate in hearings, decisions and actions.

Environmental Justice is defined by California statute as “The fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of all environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

The Water Boards have identified an EJ Coordinator whose tasks include: Assisting the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) in establishing their EJ Program; conduct research on best practices for developing and implementing the Water Board’s EJ Program; conduct training and develop informational material on EJ for all Board appointees, management, and staff; review and incorporate relevant legislation to the EJ Program; provide assistance and guidance to the Executive Director relative to the Cal/EPA Public Advisory Committee on EJ events and activities; and incorporate the Water Board’s bilingual program to ensure full participation by all Californians.

Consistent with legislative mandates, the Water Board’s EJ Program goals include:

  1. Integrating EJ considerations into the development, adoption, implementation and enforcement of Board decisions, regulations and policies.
  2. Promoting meaningful public participation and community capacity building to allow communities to be effective participants in Board decision-making processes.
  3. Working with the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to improve research and data collection in communities of color and low-income populations.
  4. Ensuring effective cross-media coordination and accountability when addressing environmental justice issues.

Currently, the Water Boards have incorporated major components of these EJ Goals within the Strategic Plan and have identified EJ as a project element. Strategies within the project include:

  1. Training all Board staff on the fundamentals of environmental justice;
  2. Reviewing existing public participation methods and recommend adjustments to ensure inclusion of all communities;
  3. Establishing a complaint process for communities to follow in alleging environmental injustice; and,
  4. Establishing a monitoring system to assess disparate impacts of enforcement decisions in “EJ Communities.”

Should you have additional questions or concerns about the EJ Program, please contact the EJ Coordinator at (916) 341-5501.

Links

US EPA

US EPA/Region 9

CalEPA

California Community Based Organizations (Partial List)