Safe Drinking Water and a Water Tax:
The mission of Sacramento-area water suppliers is to reliably provide high-quality affordable water. For several years there have been proposals to require water suppliers to provide funding to address safe drinking water outside of their service area. Unfortunately, a requirement placed on water suppliers must be uniformly passed on to customers. That approach would disproportionately fall on low-income households and divert resources needed to meet the core mission of water suppliers.
A requirement that water suppliers fund safe drinking water was first raised in the legislature in 2017. In previous legislative sessions there have been at least three legislative or budget efforts to pass a water tax. None of those proposals have been put up for a vote in the Legislature.
Governor Newsom has highlighted safe drinking water as a priority, and it seems likely that the Legislature and Administration will move forward this year with a policy to fund safe drinking water. Currently, there are three proposals related to safe drinking water; including:
- A budget proposal by Governor Newsom which is substantially similar to previous legislation and would put in place a tax on water system customers. Talking points on the subject of safe drinking water can be found here
- AB 217 (E. Garcia) which, among other things, would include a tax on water suppliers. RWA has taken an Oppose Unless Amended position on AB 217. RWA’s position letter can be found here
- SB 669 (Caballero) which would create a trust fund capitalized through the general fund. SB 669 is the only proposal that would not disproportionately affect low-income households and take resources from water suppliers’ core missions. RWA has taken a Support position on SB 669. RWA’s position letter can be found here
Many of the current and past proposals have referenced affordability. None of the proposals have put forward a solution for general affordability of water and the use of the term affordability refers only to the affordability of safe drinking water projects. This chart captures what various proposals, past and current, would address.
For additional information please see the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) website on safe drinking water: safedrinkingwatertrust.org/about/