Despite almost uniform opposition from California Water Agencies, major Water Associations and 73% of Californians, Governor Brown and the State Legislature is pushing forward with a new Water Tax. Formerly in SB 623, the enacting language is now contained in a Budget Trailer Bill which will be considered sometime before June 15, 2018, when the state budget will be adopted.
Proponents want to place a Water Tax starting a $0.95 per month for the base ¾” meter, up to $10.00 for large and multiple meters. The roughly $100 million dollars in new revenue to be generated by this tax will be directed to fix water supply, quality and system issues in roughly 325 small water systems all over California.
While providing a safe water supply for all Californians is an important and laudable goal, fully supported by most public water agencies in California, adding a Water Tax to the monthly bills of all retail customers in the state is not sound policy and is simply the wrong approach.
There are many sources of possible funding, not only for the needed capital improvements, but also for the ongoing financial support of small disadvantaged communities. There are existing state bond funds, state and federal low interest rate loans to implement the needed capital improvements. Funds needed to operate these small systems would represent a very small fraction of the State’s General Fund Budget.
A safe reliable water supply for all Californians is truly a general public concern, a public good, and a state responsibility. As such, the solution to the problem must be broad-based, supported by the state’s population and financial resources, such as the State General Fund, and not solved on the backs of water ratepayers. Proposed Water Tax Revenues from our ratepayers should either be left in their pockets, or used to replace and upgrade the aging water storage and distribution systems in their local communities.
Please let Governor Brown know how you feel about the proposed Water Tax:
Governor Jerry Brown
State Capital Building, 1st Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Gary Arant is General Manager of the Valley Center Municipal Water District.