SB 623 (Monning) has been amended to include a Water Tax!
Many of you are members of other organizations including The Association of California Water Agencies – so you have likely had information related to SB 623. This bill has a reasonable intent to deal with safe drinking water and fund water improvements in California especially in regions that that have water quality issues or other system needs.
The water community has consistently opposed a “public goods charge on water” or any of it’s other iterations like “a water tax” or “public water fee”. SB 623 has just been amended to include what they call a “safe and affordable drinking water fee”.
The water community has been working hard on this bill in anticipation of the water tax appearing in the bill – and in particular ACWA has consistently communicated support for the bill’s intent, but show that there are other ways to fund the intent without “taxing” water.
This also goes against some primary policy tenants in California of not taxing essentials – like food is not taxed by the California sales tax – and this tax would be affecting many who wouldn’t be able to afford it. The bill does have exemptions from the “fee” for hardships related to poverty qualifications, and the supporters argue the fee is nominal.They also argue that the nitrate fee provides some regulatory relief to agriculture. Yet, with all that – this could create a precedence for increased taxes / fees and other fees on municipal or agricultural water delivery.
Article 5 in the bill states:
At the start, the fee would be $0.95 per month for customers with a water meter equal to or less than one inch in size.
Meter greater than one inch and less than or equal to 2 inches: $4/mo
Meter greater than 2 inches and less than or equal to 4 inches: $6/mo
Meter greater than $ inches: $10/month
With the water tax or fee now in the bill, CalDesal has joined a letter of opposition with many other agencies and associations.
We are sending this as a heads up and encourage you to consider joining organizations or associations that are working on this bill.
- We believe the intent of dealing with safe drinking water is good.
- There are ways to fund drinking water improvements that don’t include a broad public goods charge or tax on water
- We encourage the legislature to not pass this bill as drafted with a water tax or as defined in the bill a ” safe and reliable drinking water fee”.
- Our agencies are already in the business of making un-useable water – useable or drinking water through ocean and brackish desalination, and there are costs to accomplish this – and a broad water tax on top of that is not helping to deliver safe clean reliable drinking water.