San Diego Region Unites to Oppose State’s $140 Million per Year Water Tax Proposal

  • by Will Holbert
  • Jun 1, 2018
  • Water News

Business, civic and water industry officials from across San Diego County recently joined forces to oppose the proposed $140 million per year tax on drinking water in California that would harm ratepayers and likely result in a flood of additional taxes on the state’s most precious natural resource.

During a May 23 news conference, regional leaders offered other funding solutions to improve water quality in low-income, rural areas of California without adding another tax burden to residents in one of the nation’s most expensive states.

Encinitas City Council Member Mark Muir, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors and a member of the San Dieguito Water District Board, was joined at the news conference by officials from several SDCWA member agencies; Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, chairwoman of the County Board of Supervisors; and representatives from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the Industrial Environmental Association, and several other organizations. In all, more than 30 agencies and organizations have signed a regional letter to legislative leaders opposing the drinking water tax plan.

The tax proposal is being advanced through SB 623 by state Sen. William Monning (D-Carmel) and a Brown Administration budget trailer bill related to safe drinking water. The drinking water tax would initially raise about $140 million a year to help provide clean, safe water in disadvantaged communities, mostly in the Central and Salinas valleys, where groundwater has been contaminated by farming operations. In addition, approximately $22 million a year would be generated by a tax on fertilizer and confined dairy facilities. The local coalition against the drinking water tax has proposed several funding options that would help address clean water concerns in some communities. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating a trust fund from state budget surpluses.
  • Using funds from existing and future general obligation bonds. Proposition 68 on the June ballot includes $175 million for safe drinking water.
  • Tapping the state general fund. (The state uses its general fund to pay for other important programs and social issues that have been identified as state priorities, including public health, education, housing and disability services. The public supports using the general fund to pay for programs that serve and protect residents and communities in need.)
  • Applying cap-and-trade funds for localized groundwater contamination cleanup and remediation programs, which would reduce the need to transport water long distances, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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