Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees Take Action on Priority Water Bills

  • by Matt Veeh
  • May 16, 2019
  • Water News

With a May 17 deadline for fiscal committees to meet and report to the floor bills introduced in their house, the Senate and Assembly Appropriations committees today took action on a number of priority bills that were on each committee’s suspense file.

The following summary provides an update on some of the bills that were acted upon today that are important to ACWA member agencies:

SB 669 (Caballero) – Safe Drinking Water Trust

Co-sponsored by ACWA and the California Municipal Utilities Association, this bill would create the Safe Drinking Water Trust in order to fund safe drinking water projects in disadvantaged communities.

Position: ACWA is a co-sponsor of this bill.

Action: Held in Senate Appropriations, which means it will no longer move forward this year. The action follows Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 2 taking action May 15 to reject Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget trailer bill with its proposed water tax and instead approve $150 million in General Fund dollars be continuously appropriated (annually) to the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.

AB 217 (E. Garcia) – Safe Drinking Water for All Act

This bill would create a water tax on public water systems of fifty cents per month per service connection. The bill, which would set the precedent for a statewide water tax, would require public water systems to send the funds to the State Water Board to fund the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. The bill also proposes agricultural assessments on fertilizer sales and confined animal operations.

Position: ACWA has an oppose-unless-amended position on this bill, seeking an amendment that would remove the water tax language from the bill.

Action: The bill was passed to the Assembly floor with amendments. The new amendments include removing the Trust provisions from the bill and increasing the amount of agricultural assessments. The bill still proposes a water tax.

AB 557 (Wood) – Atmospheric Rivers: Research, Mitigation, and Climate Forecasting Program

This bill would appropriate $9.25 million from the General Fund to the Department of Water Resources in the 2019–2020 fiscal year to operate the Atmospheric Rivers: Research, Mitigation, and Climate Forecasting Program.

Position: ACWA supports this bill and strongly supports funding for programs of this nature.

Action: Held in Assembly Appropriations, however there is a possibility that a separate budget request could provide funding for the program.

AB 658 (E. Garcia) – Water Rights: Water Management

This bill seeks to create a five-year permit that would allow groundwater recharge projects to divert water during high-flow events. The intent of the bill is to increase groundwater recharge when specific conditions exist.

Position: ACWA supports this bill.

Action: The bill was passed by Assembly Appropriations and now moves to the Assembly floor.

SB 332 (Hertzberg) – Wastewater Treatment: Recycled Water

This bill would declare the discharge of treated wastewater from ocean outfalls a waste and unreasonable use of water. The bill would additionally require each National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit-holder and affiliated water supplier to reduce ocean discharges by 50% by 2030 and 95% by 2040.

Position: ACWA opposes this bill   

Action: Held in Senate Appropriations.

AB 841 (Ting) – Drinking Water: Contaminants: Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

This bill proposes an approach to PFAS that relies on the existing regulatory framework for identifying and monitoring harmful contaminants. The bill would simply establish deadlines for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to perform an assessment of PFAS risk to human health by Jan. 1, 2022.

Position: ACWA supports this bill.  

Action: The bill was passed by Assembly Appropriations and now moves to the Assembly floor.

For questions about SB 669, the Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 2 action or AB 217, please contact Deputy Executive Director for Government Relations Cindy Tuck at cindyt@acwa.com or (916) 441-4545. For questions about any of the other bills, please contact State Legislative Director Adam Quiñonez at adamq@acwa.com or (916) 441-4545.

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