News Feature | February 15, 2019

California Debates New Tax For Clean Drinking Water

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

A difficult water treatment scenario is playing out for lawmakers in California. Local consumers want their contaminated water cleaned up, but taxpayers don’t want to have to pay for it.

“Californians with unhealthy drinking water pleaded for help from lawmakers this week but opposition quickly developed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to pay for system improvements with a new fee,” The Sacramento Bee reported.

The Bee reported that an estimated 1 million Californians lack access to clean drinking water. For instance, those living in Stanislaus County get water from wells that are contaminated with arsenic and nitrates.

Newsom went ahead and approved $131 million in spending to improve drinking water infrastructure, among other initiatives.

“One of the bills he signed puts $10 million toward emergency drinking water projects and another $10 million to help water districts comply with drinking water standards,” U.S. News reported. “Newsom has proposed a new tax on water that can help fund more water projects in disadvantaged communities.”

As much as they may be needed, additional improvements funded through a water tax seem unpopular among local water utilities, not to mention residents.

“We just upped our water rates, and to turn around and give them a tax on their meter is just not feasible,” Maxine Israel, the director of the Cabazon Water District, told the Bee.

Regardless, Newsom seems committed to cleaning up drinking water for every resident in his state, even if that means upsetting water authorities or consumers who have to endure additional taxes on their own drinking water.

“It’s a disgrace that in a state as wealthy and resourceful as ours that a million-plus people don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water,” he said, per the Bee.

To read more about how drinking water utilities pay for treatment efforts, visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.