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
Comments on Preliminary Draft of California Water Plan Update 2018

Submitted to the California Department of Water Resources on Jan. 16, 2018

ACWA Scholarships Toolkit

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.

ACWA Lead Testing & Service Line Inventory Webinar

On Jan. 9, in cooperation with the State Water Resources Control Board, ACWA hosted an informational webinar for public and […]

Comment on Sustainable Management Criteria Draft Best Management Practices

Submitted to the California Department of Water Resources on Jan. 8, 2018.

Coalition Comments on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Draft Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy

Submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Jan. 5, 2018.

Comments on Draft Regulation to Prohibit Wasteful Water Use Practices

Submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board on Dec. 21, 2017.

ACWA’s 2017 Accomplishments

Each year as guided by the Board of Directors’ Priority Goals, ACWA works cooperatively and collaboratively with its members to […]

ACWA 2017 Fall Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2017 Fall Conference & Exhibition held Nov. 28 – Dec. 1 in Anaheim are available below. Please […]

ACWA’s 2017 Legal Affairs Committee CLE Workshop Materials

The following presentations and materials for ACWA’s 2017 Legal Affairs Committee CLE Workshop on Nov. 28 from 9 a.m. to […]

Can We Really Predict the Weather? The Latest in Forecasting

Presentations from the Nov. 9 program, “Can We Really Predict the Weather? The Latest in Forecasting” are available below: Challenges […]

Coalition Statement on 21st Century Approach to Water Management for the Bay-Delta

Submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board on Nov. 13, 2017.

Comments on Proposition 1 Groundwater Grant Program Funding Guidelines

Submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board on Nov. 9, 2017.

Priority Issues Bulletin

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

ACWA 2017 Regulatory Summit Presentations

ACWA’s 2017 Regulatory Summit was held on Oct. 17, 2017. This one-day summit provided information about new requirements to “reduce […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
ACWA News: Jan. 19, 2018

Read the Jan. 19 issue of ACWA News for more information about the Brown Administration’s 2018-’19 budget proposal and a potential budget […]

Overcoming 2018 Challenges Can Build on Past Success

As with any new year, 2018 arrives with an exciting mix of unique challenges for ACWA members. But the key […]

Member Spotlight – January 2018

A Look at the Past, Present and Future of Palmdale Water District This year marks the 100th anniversary of the […]

Faces of Water Q&A – January 2018

Telling the stories of the people who work to deliver California’s water… 1.) Describe your job. I am the Operations Superintendent […]

ACWA Looking to Fill Vacancies on Region Boards

ACWA is seeking interested candidates to fill several vacancies on its Region Boards for the 2018-’19 term. Members of the […]

West Basin Offers Free Rainwater/ Greywater Workshop Series For Residents

CARSON, Calif. – West Basin Municipal Water District (West Basin) will host its Rainwater/Greywater event series beginning in February through […]

ACWA Members Testify at Senate Hearing on Title Transfers

ACWA Members Jerry Brown, General Manager of Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) and Jason Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of the […]

Earn CLE Credit: Videos from ACWA’s 2017 CLE Workshop Now Available for Purchase

Held on Nov. 28, 2017, ACWA’s Legal Affairs Committee CLE Workshop provided continuing legal education for water professionals and covered a […]

ACWA Scholarship Program Revamped for 2018

Now Accepting Applications through March 1 Each year, ACWA awards a number of scholarships to qualified graduate and undergraduate students […]

Western’s Plant Database Makes Water-Wise Landscaping Simple

Customers can search for more than 700 plants suitable for the Inland Empire RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Western Municipal Water District’s […]

Karla Nemeth Appointed DWR Director as Grant Davis Returns to Sonoma County Water Agency

Gov. Brown today announced the appointment of Karla Nemeth as the new director for the California Department of Water Resources. […]

Governor Releases Proposed 2018-19 Budget with Funding for Key Water Projects

Gov. Jerry Brown today released a proposed $190.3 billion spending plan that includes funding for several key water-related issues. Below […]

Materials From ACWA’s Lead Testing & Service Line Inventory Webinar Now Available Online

On Jan. 9, in cooperation with the State Water Resources Control Board, ACWA hosted an informational webinar for public and […]

Western Municipal Water District Announces 2018 Teacher Grant Recipients

Lois B. Krieger Water Education Grants fund Riverside County school projects RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Educators in western Riverside County representing […]

Oroville Independent Forensic Team Releases Final Report

The Oroville Spillways Independent Forensic Team (IFT) released its final report Jan. 5 on the causes leading to the February […]