Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, and the Coachella Valley Water District announced legislation Friday geared at expediting water infrastructure projects serving disadvantaged communities.

AB 2060 seeks to revise state law regarding how much funding can be advanced for water and wastewater projects serving grant-eligible disadvantaged communities, particularly those in the Eastern Coachella Valley.

The legislation was announced during a morning news conference at the Coachella Valley Water District’s headquarters in Coachella.

“AB 2060 will alleviate the cash-flow burden for grant-eligible disadvantaged communities, equipping our area with the resources to move forward on critical water and wastewater improvements,” Garcia said. “This measure will cut through the red tape, eliminate barriers, and pave the way for local infrastructure priorities.”

Current law states that such projects can receive advances of up to 50 percent if the project costs less than $1 million. Projects exceeding $1 million may not receive advances, according to a statement from Garcia’s office.

His legislation seeks to remove the $1 million cap and revise the advance payment amount to $500,000 or 50 percent of project costs, whichever is less, regardless of the overall costs.

In addition to being the Chair for the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, Garcia’s office is part of CVWD’s Disadvantaged Communities Infrastructure Task Force, which he credited with helping push for solutions like AB 2060.

“Over the past few years, there has been a concerted effort to address the Eastern Coachella Valley’s infrastructure shortfall,” Garcia said. “The task force has set in motion a formalized mechanism for resident-driven solutions. Now, we are in the execution phase. My job in Sacramento is to orchestrate our community’s vision, align these projects, the needs, and increase the accessibility of state dollars.”

CVWD Vice President Castulo Estrada said, “Working to solve disadvantaged community infrastructure needs has been a priority for us for many years. We formed this task force in 2016 to ensure that we could continue to build on the great progress we were making by having the right people at the table, setting goals and identifying what immediate action we could take. Together, we have identified obstacles and, more importantly, ways to solve them. By collaborating, we have advanced many solutions, and our work is just beginning. AB 2060 is one more step in the right direction.”

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