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Here in Orange County, clean water lets our kids and families enjoy a day at the beach without worrying about getting sick. It allows our coastal environment and wildlife to thrive. It fuels our tourist economy.

As Coastkeeper’s Senior Staff Attorney, Colin Kelly understands that Orange County runs on clean water and believes the best way to protect our communities is to defend policies that keep our waters safe. In 2017, this work is more important than ever.

Coastkeeper continues to stand up for our waters by meeting with Orange County’s most influential leaders – our congressional representatives. You can follow along with a series of blogs about how we talk face to face with our leaders, encouraging them to make decisions that keep our waters safe for families and marine life to enjoy.

Coastkeeper discussed water laws with our congresswoman’s staff

In March 2017, Colin met with Steven Nagy to discuss water policy. Steven works for Congresswoman Sanchez, who represents voters in Orange County. Colin talked about several issues affecting those of us who live in Sanchez’s district, including water quality, water supply, water infrastructure and environmental protections.

Rep. Sanchez is a key player in the fight to protect our local environment

  • As the fifth highest-ranking member of House Democratic Leadership, the Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair and a Senior Democratic Whip, she is one of the most powerful representatives in Congress.
  • She is the highest-ranking Latino in the House of Representatives and the first Latina elected to a leadership position in the Congress.
  • Sanchez already advocates for environmental protection and justice as a member of the International Conservation Caucus and member on the House Ethics Committee.
  • Born and raised in Orange County, Sanchez understands the importance of clean water for our communities.

Why this meeting matters for our communities

Congress will begin debating the proposed 2018 federal budget later this year. Budget cuts and bills have been introduced that would excuse pollution in Orange County neighborhoods, claiming that the pollution is too expensive to prevent or remedy.

Currently, the EPA spends about $9.5 million per year to support beach water quality testing by states around the country, including Orange County. This testing alerts beachgoers to harmful bacteria levels that cause illness and close beaches. The proposed budget eliminates all funding for this program.

Other budget cuts that will hurt Orange County residents include cuts to:

  • Environmental education by 94 percent
  • Environmental justice by 78 percent
  • Safe and sustainable water resources by 35 percent

Even after the man-made disaster in Flint, Michigan, the EPA budget would cut federal funding to protect against lead in drinking water by 29 percent and slash federal funds for state efforts by 30 percent.

As constituents, we need our representatives to hear our concerns and make decisions that benefit our community. We met with Congresswoman Sanchez’ office because our mission is to protect and promote clean water. Orange County’s families deserve clean water and consistent environmental enforcement.

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to ask our congressional representatives to protect water policies that benefit our communities.