State Legislative Committee Holds Annual Planning Meeting

  • by Heather Engel
  • Oct 30, 2019
  • Water News

ACWA’s State Legislative Committee held its annual planning meeting on Oct. 25 to evaluate proposals for sponsoring or supporting legislation during the 2020 session. There were four proposals submitted to the committee for consideration.

Water Theft Penalties

Florin Resource Conservation District and Elk Grove Water District submitted a proposal for a bill that would increase statewide penalties for water theft. Water theft examples range from tampering with a water meter to illegally hooking up to a fire hydrant.

While some water agencies, counties and cities have the ability to use ordinances to determine fines for water theft, many water providers are legally tied to the state statutory caps, which are too low to act as a deterrent. The current state-dictated fines, which haven’t been increased since 1983, are $100, $200 and $500 for first, second and third offenses. The proposal was to increase the fines to $1,000 for first offense, $2,000 for second offense and $5,000 for each additional offense.

The committee voted to support the concept of the bill while the draft language is fine-tuned with additional input. One of the key concerns is ensuring the bill won’t negatively affect ACWA members who aren’t bound by the state caps and have hefty fines already in place.

Should the proposal become a bill, it would come back before the committee for support at a later date.

PSPS Emergency Generators

ACWA’s Energy Committee submitted a proposal that would prohibit the California Air Resources Board and local air quality management districts from fining water agencies who utilize backup generators during Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.

Currently, the State Air Board regulates the use of generators, including the number of hours allowed for testing and maintenance. Some local air districts have stricter limits on use, even during an emergency.

The committee agreed to sponsor the bill, but determined that additional legislative fixes may be necessary to address to totality of the PSPS challenges that water agencies face. Therefore, a work group was established to help draft additional language as those solutions emerge.. ACWA staff has already engaged with a number of legislators to provide information about how PSPS events are effecting water agencies.

Emergency Planning and Water Agency Coordination

ACWA Vice President Steve LaMar submitted a proposal that would ensure water agencies be included in local government disaster response plans and city or county emergency operations centers in order to effectively coordinate resource requests and provide updates regarding the status of response efforts. While many agencies already serve in this manner, LaMar said he has found inconsistency across the state and cited examples of water agencies being denied access to critical emergency operations.

The committee referred this issue to the ACWA Local Government Committee for further review and directed staff to research the issue to determine whether legislation is the best option for fixing the inconsistency. If so, the issue will come back to the committee for possible sponsorship in 2021.

Zero-Carbon Policy Implementation

ACWA’s Energy Committee submitted a proposal that would make minor amendments to the requirements established by SB 100 would benefit large hydroelectric generation. Specifically, the proposal would require that state agencies ensure that actions taken to meet the statewide goal of achieving 100% renewable or zero-carbon resources by the year 2046 meet the following:

  • Consider all types of in-state renewable and zero-carbon resources as eligible and equal in meeting the 100% goal, if the technology or electric generation method used does not rely on fossil fuels and the generation technology itself does not release greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Do not exclude any category of in-state renewable energy or zero-carbon resource based solely on the size of the generation facility, or the technology or electric generation method used in the generation.

The committee voted to support the concept of the bill while the draft language is fine-tuned with additional input. Comments on the bill language can be submitted to ACWA’s Energy Committee. The bill will come back to the State Legislative Committee for support or sponsorship in January 2020.

 

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