Timothy Quinn, executive director of the statewide Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), issued the following statement in response to Senator William Monning’s (D-Carmel) press conference today calling for the Legislature to approve legislation that would impose a tax on drinking water.
“ACWA and its growing coalition of partners — now at more than 200 entities — agree with the need to ensure safe drinking water for all Californians. We are pleased that the legislature’s Budget Conference Committee last week approved $23.5 million in General Fund dollars for safe drinking water, recognising there are viable funding alternatives to a statewide water tax.”
The Budget Conference Committee did not adopt the budget trailer bill that proposed a tax on drinking water. The Conference Committee’s action comes at a time when the state has an $8.8 billion budget surplus.
The General Fund funding will add to new funding that became available when California voters last week approved Proposition 68 with $250 million in general obligation bonds for safe drinking water prioritised for disadvantaged communities. In November, voters will have the opportunity to pass another water bond, which would authorise $500 million in general obligation bonds for safe drinking water prioritised for disadvantaged communities.
Another component to solving this problem is making it easier for small water systems that are unable to provide safe drinking water to consolidate with systems that are capable of doing so. That is why ACWA supports AB 2050 (Caballero, D-Salinas) which would enact a governance tool regarding small system water authorities and help reduce the number of noncompliant systems.