ACWA Supports Safe Drinking Water Solutions, But Taxing Water is Not the RIGHT Approach

  • by Kathleen Tiegs and Brent Hastey
  • Aug 23, 2017
  • Voices on Water

Today, a legislative committee in Sacramento will consider a bill that would impose the first-ever statewide tax on Californians’ water. The bill, SB 623 by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), addresses the very serious problem of ensuring safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities.  ACWA’s Board of Directors and members have made it a high priority to support bond funds and other drinking water funding to address this serious social and public health issue, but SB 623 which would impose a new tax on water is not the right approach. ACWA is actively opposing this bill.

ACWA and its members strongly support the goal of ensuring disadvantaged communities have access to safe drinking water. ACWA has been working to develop effective solutions and advance sensible funding strategies. We understand that without water for drinking, cooking and bathing, people’s lives hang in the balance. That is exactly why it is so important to find the RIGHT solution.

Although it is being called a “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fee,” make no mistake about it – this is a tax, not a fee. And what’s also troubling about the proposal is that its specifics weren’t released until the eleventh hour when lawmakers returned to Sacramento for the final weeks of session. The huge shift in public policy that this bill proposes deserves a full vetting in policy committees and beyond. The tax element in this bill has never been debated in a policy hearing.

ACWA opposes SB 623 for many reasons, not the least of which is that taxing Californians for something that is essential to life does not make sense and would work against water affordability. If passed, SB 623 opens the door to future taxes on water to solve other social issues, further eroding local affordability of water. Customers’ water bills could become vehicles for revenue streams for state-run programs. This bad policy would essentially turn hundreds of local water agencies into taxation entities that send money to Sacramento. SB 623 is just not sound policy.

There is a better solution. ACWA is working to advance an effective funding package that includes dollars from the state’s General Fund, ongoing funds from the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and general obligation bond monies that have been approved by voters for the specific purpose of assisting disadvantaged communities. ACWA has been accused by SB 623 supporters of “stepping away from ag” but that is not the case. ACWA’s proposed funding package accommodates the “ag solution,” an assessment proposed by agriculture related to nitrates in groundwater.

We all want safe drinking water for every Californian, especially those living in disadvantaged communities. A lack of safe drinking water is a public health and social issue that will take focused leadership on the state level. SB 623 is not the answer.

ACWA will continue to fight for the right solution. Our state deserves it.

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
2018 ACWA Member Directory

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Federal Regulatory Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Joint Comments on Proposed Recycled Water Policy Amendment

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Long-Term Conservation Resources (SB 606/AB 1668)

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

ACWA Statewide Reservoirs Mercury Control Program Technical Presentations Webinar

On May 30, 2018 ACWA hosted the Statewide Reservoirs Mercury Control Program Technical Presentations. This webinar highlighted state and local […]

Priority Issues Bulletin

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Joint Comments on State Water Board Electronic Annual Reporting

Submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board on May 30, 2018.

Comments on U.S. EPA Clean Water Act Coverage of “Discharges of Pollutants”

Submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on May 21, 2018.

ACWA 2018 Spring Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2018 Spring Conference & Exhibition held May 8-11 in Sacramento are available below. Please note that this […]

Joint Comments on the U.S. Forest Service’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget

Submitted to U.S. Senators Lisa Murkoski and Maria Cantwell, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources on May 8, 2018.


The following presentations and materials for ACWA’s 2018 Legal Affairs Committee CLE Workshop on May 8 from 9 a.m. to […]

2017 Year in Review

During 2017, ACWA and its membership proved how strength through collaboration can achieve goals unprecedented in terms of complexity and […]

No Water Tax Toolkit

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

2017 Summary of Legislation

ACWA’s 2017 Summary of Legislation provides concise information on legislation enacted in the first year of the 2017-’18 legislative session that […]

2017 Summary of Appellate Cases

ACWA’s  2017 Summary of Appellate Cases details court decisions in 2016-’17 that may be of interest to ACWA member agencies […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
ACWA News: July 20, 2018

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Water Wins in D.C. Underway

Despite increasing polarization in our nation’s capital, significant progress is being made on several issues of importance to ACWA members. As […]

Faces of Water Q&A – July 2018

1. Describe your job. My job is to ensure the financial health and integrity of San Juan Water District on […]

Member Spotlight – July 2018

100-year-old Alpine Dam Underpins Marin Municipal Water District’s Rich History Replacing pipelines, maintaining infrastructure and ensuring the flow of high-quality […]

RCWD will install nine new water bottle fill stations at local schools

Temecula, Calif. – To promote tap water while reducing waste, Rancho California Water District (RCWD/District) is installing water bottle fill […]

EMWD Receives Grant Funding from Bureau of Reclamation

Perris, Calif. — Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) was recently awarded $750,000 in grant funding from the United States Bureau […]

Yuba County Water Agency rebrands as Yuba Water Agency, unveils new logo

Marysville, Calif. —  Yuba County Water Agency announced today that it is rebranding as Yuba Water Agency, to provide a simple, […]

State Plan to Improve Delta Conditions Further Refined to Reduce Impacts

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Tuesday released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for […]

Tour Mesa Water’s Water-Wise Garden at the Orange County Fair, Free with Fair Admission

Take a guided tour of Mesa Water District’s water-wise demonstration garden during the 2018 Orange County Fair to learn about beautifying […]

ACWA To Host Webinar on New Long-Term Water Use Efficiency Laws

ACWA will host a webinar from 11 a.m. to noon on July 25 to discuss the new long-term water use […]


The July 2018 Priority Issues Update is now available online to members. The update is bullet-style summary of the latest […]

2018 Member Directory Now Available

ACWA’s 2018 Member Directory is now available for online viewing and downloading by public agency members and associates. The directory […]

House Passes Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed HR 3281, the “Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act” by a […]

EMWD Receives $2.78M in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Workplan

Perris, Calif. — Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) has received a funding appropriation of $2.78 million from the United States […]

ACWA Statement on Release of Draft Final Bay-Delta Plan Update For The Lower San Joaquin River and Southern Delta

Sacramento – Timothy Quinn, executive director of the statewide Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), issued the following statement today in […]