A provision in the newest California budget could give the state the power to force mergers between small water providers and larger companies. A number of small central valley water utilities are facing dried up wells and dirty water due to the drought.
Many of the smallest water providers in the valley have just one well and lack the resources or customer base to continue to provide clean water.
Laurel Firestone with the Community Water Center says merging with bigger companies gives those communities a larger more durable water supply, especially during the drought.
“Larger water systems have many sources of water. They have multiple wells. Some of them have access to surface water. And they just have more diversified sources to pull from,” Firestone said.
Firestone says the rule is a step forward because previously it has been difficult to convince the larger companies to merge with smaller providers.
However, representatives with the large water providers say the state is overstepping its authority and that merger decision should be made on the local level.