Comments Requested: SB 623 – Water Tax Proposal
August 31, 2017
CSAC is continuing to request your feedback on SB 623, by Senator Monning, a bill that includes a water tax on homes and businesses of public water systems. While discussion and concepts have been floating around on this idea for some time, this is the first legislative attempt to move this idea forward this year. The bill is currently on the Appropriations suspense file and will be take up on Friday, September 1. If it moves out of the Appropriations Committee, the bill will then move to the Assembly Floor.
The proposal is expected to generate roughly $110 million per year by imposing a tax of $0.95 a month on each person that purchases water from a public water system (retail customers with a water meter). There is a sliding fee schedule on businesses of up to $10 a month. SB 623 includes an exemption for households whose income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The total price tag from the proposal is expected to generate $2 billion over 15 years. In addition, there is also a fee on all fertilizer materials to be paid by licensees who sell or distribute bulk fertilizer, which is expected to generate $30 million.
According to the author, “SB 623 seeks to provide an ongoing funding stream to ensure that disadvantaged communities have access to clean, safe, affordable, drinking water.” The funding generated from this measure would go to fund these communities that don’t have access to clean drinking water. It would accomplish this by requiring the State Water Board in consultation with local health officers to develop and annually update a map of aquifers at high risk of containing contaminants that exceed state and federal primary drinking water standards and award grants, loans, contracts and services to eligible applicants.
SB 623 also requires local health officers or other relevant local agencies to provide all results of, and data associated with, water quality testing performed by certified laboratories for a state small water system or domestic wells. This bill is supported by a coalition of environmental and certain agricultural interests. It is opposed by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA). As this concept was just introduced last week, more support and opposition is expected to register in the coming weeks. CSAC has not yet taken a position on this measure.
We encourage your comments and feedback. Please contact Cara Martinson, CSAC Senior Legislative Representative at 916-327-7500, ext. 504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.