Governor Signs Bills on Metal Theft, Quagga Mussels

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed ACWA-supported legislation designed to curb metal theft and combat the spread of invasive quagga mussels.

SB 1045 (Emmerson), sponsored by Eastern Municipal Water District, would make junk dealers and recyclers liable for damages for possessing fire hydrants, manhole covers or backflow prevention devices without a written certification. Damages would include the value of the items and costs incurred by a water agency or public utility to replace them and repair any damage caused by their removal.

The bill additionally would require the court to award exemplary damages of three times the actual damages incurred by the agency or utility.

Metal theft is on the rise in California and has become a significant drain on local budgets.

The governor also signed legislation addressing another significant threat for water agencies. AB 2443 (Williams) is aimed at controlling the spread of invasive mussels by imposing a Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention Fee on freshwater boat registrations.

Since many water districts already operate successful programs for reservoirs they own or manage, ACWA worked on amendments to ensure the bill would not affect existing water agency local mussel inspection and eradication programs. ACWA also worked on amendments to allow these existing programs to access grant funding that will become available under this new program.