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
ACWA 2018 Fall Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2018 Fall Conference & Exhibition held Nov. 27-30 in San Diego are available below. Please note that […]

2018 Summary of Legislation

ACWA’s 2018 Summary of Legislation provides concise information on legislation enacted in the second year of the 2017-’18 legislative session that […]

California H2O: Flowing for the Future

ACWA and J Comm, Inc. have collaborated to create a 10-part video series to educate Californians about critical water issues. […]

ACWA’S 2018 Fall Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop Materials

The following presentations and materials for ACWA’s 2018 Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop on Nov. 27 from 9 a.m. to […]

Comments on 2018 Electronic Annual Reporting

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: 2018 Electronic Annual Reporting Letter excerpt:  We appreciate your efforts in convening the Division of […]

2018 Summary of Appellate Cases

ACWA’s  2018 Summary of Appellate Cases details court decisions in 2017-’18 that may be of interest to ACWA member agencies […]

November 2018 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

ACWA’s November 2018 Federal Regulatory Chart, is now available. This chart details the status of federal regulatory issues being tracked by […]


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

Bay-Delta Plan Update Toolkit

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

ACWA 2018 Regulatory Summit Presentations

ACWA’s 2018 Regulatory Summit was held on Oct. 16, 2018 at the Hilton Arden-West in Sacramento. The theme of this […]

Comments on Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program Implementation

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Implementation of Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program Letter excerpt:  The Association of California Water Agencies […]

Joint Comments On Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life: Primer

Agency: Department of Water Resources Subject: Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life: Primer of 2018 Legislation on Water […]

August 2018 Federal Regulatory Chart

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

Toolkit Available for Supporting, Educating About Proposition 3

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


California’s second annual Water Professionals Appreciation Week will kick off Oct. 6, highlighting the important role of water industry professionals […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
ACWA Launches “California H2O: Flowing For the Future” Video Series to Promote California Water Industry

ACWA has developed the first three episodes of a new educational video series to help member agencies inform their customers, […]


COMMERCE – The Central Basin Municipal Water District is proud to announce that residents and businesses in our service area […]

Two CVWD projects selected to receive EPA federal loans

COACHELLA – Two Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) stormwater projects have been selected to receive Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) federal […]

State Water Project Begins Year with 10 Percent Allocation

On Nov. 30, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced an initial allocation on the State Water Project (SWP) […]

Award Winners on Display at ACWA’s 2018 Fall Conference in San Diego

SAN DIEGO – Today, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) handed out awards in several categories to water agencies and individuals […]

ACWA Awards Graduate Scholarship for 2018-’19 Academic Year

SAN DIEGO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today announced the winner of its 2018-’19 Stephen K. Hall Water […]

New PWD Water System Master Plan, Associated Fees Approved

PALMDALE – A new Water System Master Plan that projects infrastructure needs through 2030, including updated Capital Improvement and Water Supply […]

Central Basin Recognized for Excellence In Information Technology

COMMERCE – The Central Basin Municipal Water District has once again been recognized for information technology practices that excel in […]

EMWD Announces 2018 Water Champion Award Recipient

PERRIS — Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) today announced that Assemblywoman Anna Caballero was selected for its 2018 Water Champion […]

Operation FATFISH

A recent ACWA event jointly hosted by Region 2 and Region 4 vividly illustrated the value behind functional flows and […]

November/December Priority Issues Update

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

PWD, Partners Break Ground at Recharge Project Site

PALMDALE – Palmdale Water District (PWD) officials joined the City of Palmdale, California Department of Water Resources and other local […]

New Assistant General Manager Named for Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District

LAKE ELSINORE – Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) named Brian Macy, P.E., seasoned water and engineering industry leader, as […]

Western’s Communications Programs Take Home Top Honors

RIVERSIDE – Western Municipal Water District (Western) received nine top honors from the Public Relations Society of America-Inland Empire Chapter […]


ROWLAND HEIGHTS– The Rowland Water District Board of Directors has released the details of its latest, comprehensive Strategic Plan, which […]