While most Californians have access to safe and reliable drinking water, there are still more than 300 water systems in the state that are non-compliant and fail to deliver water that meets public health standards. A vast majority of these systems are located throughout the Central Valley, and are privately owned and in rural, disadvantaged communities.
EMWD supports every Californian having access to a clean and reliable water supply, and we believe that a solution should address the root cause of the failing systems—which is often a lack of technical, managerial, and/or financial experience—before determining any type of funding mechanism.
Legislation (SB 623 and a related Brown Administration Budget Trailer Bill) has been proposed, which seeks to implement the first ever “Water Tax” that would collect funds from public water system ratepayers to fund system improvements for non-compliant systems in other parts of the state. For most EMWD customers, the Water Tax would be a fee of approximately $1 per month added to their current bill.
EMWD believes that failing systems need a sustainable approach to operate safely and responsibly, without the need for a Water Tax. AB 2050 can help provide all Californians with access to safe and reliable drinking water, now and into the future.
In an effort to propose a long-term method for providing all Californians with clean water, EMWD and the California Municipal Utilities Association have co-sponsored AB 2050, the Small System Water Authority Act of 2018. AB 2050 proposes to merge multiple, non-compliant water systems—that are close in general proximity but don’t have to share boundaries—into larger and more robust systems that can operate together for lower cost overall. The newly formed special district would then have better financing opportunities due to a larger customer base, with increased access to state grants and municipal bonds or other funding mechanisms which are historically used by larger public agencies. These newly created special districts would also be held to public agency accountability standards, which would ensure funds are used appropriately to develop necessary infrastructure to treat contamination issues so that safe and affordable water is delivered to customers.
AB 2050 - Small System Water Authority Act of 2018
SB 623 - Drinking Water Tax
AB 401 RESOURCES