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
Safe Drinking Water Trust Toolkit

ACWA urges its members to use the following updated materials to help educate key audiences about how the proposed Safe Drinking […]

Comment Letter – OEHHA Draft Report on Human Right to Water

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

Energy and Water Resources Policy Principles – Adopted Jan. 2019

In January 2019, ACWA released its updated policy principles on “Energy and Water Resources” in California. The updated principles will help […]

Comment Letter – Options for Implementation of a Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program

Agency: California State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Options for Implementation of a Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program Letter excerpt:  […]

2019 Legislative Outreach Toolkit

To assist  members in communicating and engaging with their legislative representatives, ACWA has published a 2019 Legislative Outreach Toolkit. Toolkit […]

Comment Letter on the California Water Plan Update 2018, Public Review Draft

Agency: California Department of Water Resources Subject: California Water Plan Update 2018, Public Review Draft Letter excerpt:  Dear Mr. Massera: The Association […]

Coalition Letter on Water Infrastructure Investment Needs

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

Coalition Letter on Proposed Public Health Goals for Trihalomethanes in Drinking Water

Agency: Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment Subject: Proposed Public Health Goals for Trihalomethanes in Drinking Water Letter excerpt:  The Association of […]

Coalition Letter on Public Comment Period for Draft Technical Support Document for the Proposed PHGs for THMs

Agency: Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment Subject: Public Comment Period for Draft Technical Support Document for the Proposed PHGs for […]

January 2019 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

ACWA’s January 2019 Federal Regulatory Chart, is now available. This chart details the status of federal regulatory issues being tracked by […]

Joint Comment Letter on Toxicity Provisions

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

Comments on Nutria Removal Program in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

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

2019 ACWA Scholarships Toolkit

To assist  members in promoting available ACWA scholarship opportunities, the association has updated its Scholarships Toolkit for the 2019-’20 academic […]

Comments on Prop 1 IRWM Implementation Draft Guidelines

Agency: California Department of Water Resources Subject: Proposition 1 IRWM Implementation Draft Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package Letter excerpt:  The Association of […]

Extend California Title of WIIN Act

Letter excerpt: Dear Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi: The Association of California Water Agencies urges you to extend the […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
ACWA News Feb. 22, 2019

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

ACWA and CMUA-Sponsored Bill Advances Trust to Fund Safe Drinking Water

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Feb. 22, 2019 Contact: Heather Engel, Director of Communications | (916) 441-4545 | C (760) 217-0627 SACRAMENTO – […]

Faces of Water Q&A – February 2019

1. Describe your job. I am responsible for directing and supervising the areas of accounting, environmental resources, human resources, land […]

Atmospheric River Research Packed with Potential

The past few weeks have demonstrated how atmospheric rivers, over a relatively short period of time, can completely alter the […]

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – February 2019

Promise and Progress With Predicting Atmospheric Rivers In California water, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of the […]

Stapleton Leaves Lasting Legacy on San Diego’s Water Supplies

After 23 years at the helm of the San Diego region’s wholesale water agency, General Manager Maureen Stapleton is stepping […]

Elsinore Valley Teachers Receive Lois B. Krieger Water Project Grants for Educators

LAKE ELSINORE – Five Teachers in Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District’s (EVMWD) service area received Lois B. Krieger Water Project […]

EVMWD receives federal funding to upgrade recycled water facilities

LAKE ELSINORE –Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) has received a $2.6 million grant from the United States Bureau of Reclamation […]

State Water Project Allocation Boosted by February Storms

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Feb. 20 announced an increase to the 2019 State Water Project allocation […]

Reclamation Announces Initial Water Supply Allocation for Central Valley Project

The Bureau of Reclamation today announced the initial 2019 water supply allocation for Central Valley Project water service contractors. This […]

San Diego County Water Authority Welcomes New Director of Water Resources

Kelley Gage joined the Water Authority in October 2018, after serving as a senior executive at Eastern Municipal Water District […]

Raise a Toast! Water Authority Declares February as San Diego Brewing Month

Recognizing the growing significance of the region’s craft beer and coffee roasting industries, the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board […]

New Directors Join San Diego County Water Authority Board

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors welcomed four new members in early 2019: Almis Udrys, representing the […]

State Water Board Releases Draft Report on Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program

Last month, the State Water Resources Control Board released its draft report “Options for Implementation of a Statewide Water Rate […]

ACWA Board Adopts Updated Energy Policy Principles

In January, the ACWA Board of Directors approved updated Energy and Water Resources Policy Principles. One of ACWA’s policy-related priorities […]