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California Gov. Gavin Newsom knelt down to speak to young students at Riverview K-8 School in Parlier during a Feb. 13 visit to the region to sign Assembly Bill 72 to provide funding for emergency drinking water. The school has had to bring bottled water to campus for more than a year because of unsafe drinking water on site.

Less than two months into his term, Gavin Newsom visited the Reedley area on Feb. 13 to sign his first legislation as California governor.

Inside a classroom at Riverview K-8 School in Parlier, and in front of a group of first grade students at the Kings Canyon Unified School District campus, Newsom put pen to paper to make Assembly Bill 72 state law after state legislative approval.. 

The bill, provides an immediate $20 million – $10 million to continue funding for emergency drinking water projects and $10 million in technical funding — to help the state address current drinking water standards.

““This legislation provides emergency funding as a down payment. But it’s only the first step to addressing the clean drinking water crisis in our state,” Newsom told parents, education officials and media at a roundtable meeting after the signing. “The fact that more than a million Californians can’t rely on clean water to drink or bathe in is a moral disgrace.

“Our state must forge a long-term solution to this crisis, and I’m looking forward to working with the Legislature in the coming months to do just that.”

Newsom’s visit to Riverview had just that purpose. The school has had unsafe water on the campus for more than a year, and has had to bring in bottled water for student and faculty consumption.

AB72 was linked to AB73, which provides emergency funds for fire recovery in a state devastated by a handful of massive wildfires in the last three-plus years.

The bill also clarifies that funding in the 2017-18 budget for drinking water in schools can be given as grants to public agencies, public water systems, or non-profit organizations. The funds can be used to help with water management and re-appropriates the balance of 2016 drinking water funds for schools.

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