Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources Legislative Update
Aug. 23, 2018
AENR Legislative Update:
SB 1215 (Hertzberg): CSAC recently took an oppose position on this bill. The bill would allow California’s regional water boards to mandate the provision of sanitary sewer services by special districts and local governments to disadvantaged communities without giving adequate consideration to community needs and the expensive realities of designing, building and operating sewer systems.
Given the high costs of construction and maintenance and limited financing options, CSAC is very concerned with how this bill and its mandate for consolidation would impact and raise rates of existing sewer service recipients. Disadvantaged communities with failing septic systems should be provided the opportunity to connect to a sanitary sewer system, and the key impediments are proximity to an existing sewer system and cost. Unfortunately, the approach outlined in SB 1215 fails to solve these problems and doesn’t represent a practical solution to realizing and achieving this worthy objective.
CSAC Supports New Effort on Modified Water Tax Legislation:
CSAC is in support of two new measures that would help provide clean drinking water to disadvantaged communities throughout the state. These two measures are SB 844 (Monning) and SB 845 (Monning). These measures are follow up bills to water tax legislation proposed earlier in this session, SB 623 (Monning). SB 623 was recently held in Senate Rules Committee. CSAC was in support of SB 623 which would have created new charges on drinking water customers and certain agricultural entities to generate revenue to implement a new financial assistance program to address unsafe drinking water, with a focus on disadvantaged communities.
The two new measures make modifications to the original proposal, and will allow for water users to opt out of potential water fees and provides for an increase of fees on fertilizer producers. The revenue from the fees would create a continuous allocation into a fund that will be administered by the State Water Resources Control Board. Specifically, the fund would provide help to certain local water agencies—particularly ones in disadvantaged communities—with grants, loans, contracts, or services to help support their operations and maintenance costs. The two new measures, SB 844 (Monning) and SB 845 (Monning), have bi-partisan co-authors and the continued support of environmental justice and agricultural interests that supported the original measure.