Now Is The Time to Solve Drinking Water Problem Without A Tax

  • by Timothy Quinn
  • May 25, 2018
  • Voices on Water

The debate over funding sources that can ensure safe drinking water for every Californian continues in the state’s Capitol. Everyone agrees on the goal. But what should be the funding source? The Brown Administration is trying to advance a budget trailer bill that is proposing a tax on drinking water. ACWA and a broad coalition oppose the proposed tax and are suggesting alternative funding solutions.

The vast majority of the state’s residents have safe drinking water thanks in large part to ACWA members – local water agencies that work diligently to provide safe drinking water. But there are certain areas, primarily rural and disadvantaged communities, where there is not access to safe drinking water. ACWA and its members strongly agree this is a critical social issue for the state that needs to be addressed.

As many of you know, last year Sen. William Monning (D-Carmel) proposed a funding solution that relies heavily on a new, statewide tax on drinking water. A similar proposal is also included in a budget trailer bill. Proponents are touting a proposed “fee” of less than $1 per month. For the record, it’s a tax. Money collected from Californians by thousands of water agencies across the state and sent to Sacramento to benefit residents in specific areas is a tax. The fact that the bill proposes a tax is why a two-thirds super-majority vote of both houses is required to pass it.

ACWA and a growing coalition of more than 170 cities, local water agencies and business organizations back an alternative funding package comprised of ongoing federal funds from the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, voter-approved general obligation bonds, agricultural assessments related to nitrates in groundwater proposed in the budget trailer bill and general fund dollars. The amount of general fund dollars that ACWA is suggesting is less than 1/10th of 1% of the general fund. This is doable – and what future Legislature is going to say that they should not continue funding safe drinking water?

ACWA conducted a survey earlier this year of 1,000 likely voters and found 74% of Californians agree that these other funding sources are a better alternative than a tax. Supporters of the water tax recently released polling data that claims an opposite result, but I encourage anyone who wants to know the truth to take a closer look at how the questions were asked. When voters are informed that this is a tax, that the funds will be spent somewhere else, and that there are viable alternatives, they overwhelmingly oppose a new tax on drinking water.

A water tax proponent, in an op-ed for Water Deeply, recently accused the water community of opposing SB 623 “without offering any real alternative solutions.” The reality is that ACWA initially offered its alternative solution last summer and has more recently been advancing a package with three additional alternatives. For example, in addition to the above-mentioned recommended funding package, ACWA and its coalition are advancing the creation of an Irrevocable Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Trust, which would establish a perpetual source of funding. Other viable alternatives include lease revenue bonds and an allocation of Cap and Trade funding.

ACWA members are also advancing other tools to help disadvantaged communities without resources to deliver safe drinking water. For example, AB 2050 (Caballero, D-Salinas) would create small system water authorities with adequate resources to attain drinking water compliance. While this won’t solve the problem by itself, it would play an important role is advancing safe drinking water accessibility.

Legislators in both houses and on both sides of the aisle are interested in alternatives. Now is the time to finally solve this problem – and do so without a tax on drinking water.

Details about ACWA’s funding alternatives and polling results are available online at www.acwa.com/no-water-tax.

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
ACWA 2019 Spring Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2019 Spring Conference & Exhibition held May 7-10 in Monterey are available below. Please note that this […]

Priority Issues Bulletin

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

Comment Letter on the Proposed Framework for Performance Standards for Water Loss

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Proposed Framework for Performance Standards for Water Loss Letter excerpt:  Dear Mr. Gomberg: Thank […]

Federal Legislative Matrix

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

Overview Presentations: Water Conservation/Water Use Efficiency Laws of 2018 (AB 1668/SB 606) and Implementation Challenges

State Overview by Peter Brostrom, Department of Water Resources (May 2019) Implementations Challenges by David Bolland, ACWA (May 2019) A […]

May 2019 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

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

COMMENT LETTER: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Proposed Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States”

Agency: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Subject: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. […]

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. […]

Energy and Water Resources Policy Principles

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

ACWA’s 2019 Spring Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop Materials

The following presentations and materials for ACWA’s 2019 Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop on May. 7 from 9 a.m. to […]

ACWA Suggested Guidelines for 2019 Triennial Reporting of Public Health Goal Exceedance in Drinking Water

Agency: Public Water Systems and State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water Subject: Suggested Guidelines for Preparation of Required […]

Executive Director Dave Eggerton Congressional Testimony on Western Water Infrastructure

Agency: House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subject: State of Western Water Infrastructure in Innovation Testimony excerpt:  It is critical […]

Coalition Letter Supporting NPDES Permit Legislation

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

March 2019 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

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

Comment Letter: Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program Third Preliminary Draft Regulations

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

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
LEGISLATURE APPROVES UNPRECEDENTED FUNDING FOR ATMOSPHERIC RIVERS RESEARCH

FOUNTAIN VALLEY – The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will receive $9.25 million toward funding for research into atmospheric […]

State Agencies Seek Input on Creating Climate-Resilient Water System

SACRAMENTO — State agencies are asking Californians to help shape a roadmap for meeting future water needs and ensuring environmental […]

PWD GM LaMoreaux Running for State Special Districts Association Board

Palmdale Water District (PWD) General Manager Dennis D. LaMoreaux is a candidate for the Southern Network Board of Directors for […]

James Peifer Named Executive Director of RWA and Sacramento Groundwater Authority

CITRUS HEIGHTS – Lauded water industry professional James Peifer has been selected as the next Executive Director of the Regional […]

ACWA Members Testify Before U.S. House of Representatives

On Thursday, the U.S. House Natural Resources Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee met to discuss legislation moving through the 116th […]

Sec. Crowfoot Testifies at U.S. Senate Wildfire Hearing

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee convened to discuss the outlook for various wildfire management programs […]

ACWA Seeks Nominations for Leaders for 2020-’21 Elected Term

The ACWA Nominating Committee is seeking nominations for qualified candidates to serve as ACWA president and vice president for the […]

Moulton Niguel Continues to Deliver Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water

In its water quality report covering calendar year 2018, Moulton Niguel Water District reports that the drinking water provided to […]

Check Soil Moisture Before Turning on Sprinklers, Water Providers Urge

Sacramento-area water providers are encouraging residents to check soil moisture before turning on sprinklers and are offering free moisture meters […]

IRWD Wins National Silver Anvil Award for Water Efficiency Campaign

Irvine Ranch Water District has received the nation’s most prestigious honor for public relations and outreach: a Public Relations Society […]

Governor and Legislative Leaders Collaborate on Safe Drinking Water Solution

On Sunday, the 2019 Conference Committee on the Budget voted for a safe drinking water funding solution for disadvantaged communities […]

VISTA IRRIGATION DISTRICT ANNOUNCES WATERSMART LANDSCAPE CONTEST WINNER

The Vista Irrigation District board of directors recognized one of its customers for her entry in the district’s WaterSmart Landscape […]

Helping build a brighter future for Yuba County

In the 1950s, our county leaders had the incredible vision and fortitude to conceive and construct a series of dams […]

Central Basin Achieves Recognition for Excellence in Financial Reporting

COMMERCE – The Central Basin Municipal Water District has been recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) with the […]

State Water Board Plans Workshop on CV Salt and Nitrate Program

A July 2 public workshop in Sacramento will invite input on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board’s plans […]