Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund - Background

The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments of 1996 authorized the creation of a drinking water state revolving fund program for public water systems (PWS) infrastructure needs and other drinking water-related activities.

The federal law provides that a portion of the federal funds may be used for specified activities in addition to providing financial assistance to public water systems for infrastructure improvements. These activities include: (1) administration of the DWSRF financial assistance program, (2) technical assistance to small PWS, (3) source water assessment and protection, and (4) water system capacity development. Collectively, funding for these "set-aside" programs may utilize up to 31 percent of the federal Capitalization Grant. California does not intend to divert the total amount of authorized funds into these activities. California intends to utilize only 6.4 percent of the 1999 funds for set-aside activities not directly providing funding for water system projects.

Priorities and Infrastructure Improvements

The Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SDWSRF) program goals reflect both federal and state legislative intent to provide funding to correct PWS deficiencies based upon a prioritized funding system (see SDWSRF documents and materials below). The funding system utilizes a comprehensive multi-year Project Priority List, whereby certain projects receive higher funding priority than other eligible PWS projects. Higher priority projects include: PWS projects addressing public health risk problems; PWS projects needed to comply with the SDWA; and projects assisting PWS most in need on a per household affordability basis.

The SDWSRF provides ~7,800 PWS in California the opportunity to utilize subsidized funding to correct infrastructure problems, to assess and protect source water, and to improve technical, managerial and financial capability. Additionally, the SDWSRF benefits more than 7,400 small water systems (each serving fewer than 10,000 people) by providing funding for technical assistance in most aspects of PWS operations and management, and by assisting with the training and certification costs for operators of small community and nontransient noncommunity water systems.

CDPH participates in the California Finance Coordinating Committee. This program brings together representatives of state and federal agencies which fund water and wastewater infrastructure projects in order to facilitate coordination among the programs and application processes. By working to streamline application processes, particularly on jointly funded projects, the committee facilitates financing of critical infrastructure projects in California.

Labor Compliance Program

Senate Bill 279 (Machado, Chapter 892, Statutes of 2002) requires that entities awarding public works financed with state bond funds must adopt and enforce a labor compliance program in compliance with California Labor Code 1771.8. For more information, go to the Department of Industrial Relations' (DIR's) Labor Compliance Program (LCP) website. There you will find various materials (Items 1-8), including applications for initial LCP approval (Item 2).

Some Funding Sources for SDWSRF

In February 2009, President Obama signed into law The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Among its provisions, ARRA provides ~$160 million to the SDWSRF for infrastructure development for California's drinking water systems. More information can be obtained from CDPH's ARRA website.

In November 2006, voters approved Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Act of 2006. Among CDPH's responsibilities is the implementation of Section 75023, which provides $50 million for the SDWSRF. More information can be obtained from CDPH's Proposition 84 website.

In November 2002, voters approved Proposition 50, the Water Security, Clean Drinking Water, Coastal and Beach Protection Act of 2002. Among CDPH's responsibilities is the implementation of Chapter 4: Safe Drinking Water, which provides ~$90 million for the SDWSRF. More information can be obtained from CDPH's Proposition 50 website.

In March 2000, California voters passed a water bond, "Proposition 13." The Department of Health Services (now CDPH) was designated to receive $70 million from the sale of general obligation bonds approved in the ballot measure: (1) $68 million to be used as the state match to access ~$340 million in federal capitalization grant funds for PWS infrastructure improvements during the subsequent four years, and (2) $2 million to be used to provide technical assistance to PWS including disadvantaged communities. More information on Proposition 13 can be obtained from State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources.

During the period of the late 1970s through the 1980s, the voters of California approved a series of Safe Drinking Water Bond Law ballot initiatives (collectively referred to as the "Bond Law") to provide funds for projects to enable public water systems to meet public health based drinking water quality standards. Most of the $425 million in funding authorized by those laws has been expended; remaining funds are now administered by the Department of Water Resources.

For More Information

To find out more about CDPH's drinking water-related funding opportunities under SDWSRF, click on one of the links above or contact us by email at