Proposed water tax pending

Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget includes a provision to establish a special fund to upgrade water systems in disadvantaged communities.

The Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund is similar to last year’s Senate Bill 623, which was abandoned as part of a compromise on the state budget. That legislation was followed by a similar proposal by then-Governor Jerry Brown, who abandoned the idea for lack of support in the Legislature.

Though details of Newsom’s proposed tax have not been released, it is expected to mirror SB 623, which called for an additional 95 cents per month for retail water customers and up to $10 per month for businesses.

Most of the small water systems and private well users that would benefit are in the Central Valley, where water quality is degraded by agricultural pesticides, arsenic and other contaminants. They represent a small percentage of the state.

The idea of a tax on water has been widely opposed by water agencies, businesses, associations and cities in California.

The Association of California Water Agencies and California Municipal Utilities Association are sponsoring alternative legislation to create a Safe Drinking Water Trust, which would be financed with General Fund dollars during a state budget surplus year. The net income from the Trust would create a durable funding source to help water systems in disadvantaged communities provide access to safe drinking water.

Rowland Water District will continue to monitor progress on this proposal and keep our customers informed.

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