California’s focused on safe and affordable drinking water this year, and there are many different bills on the legislative docket this year that propose different pathways to get to our water goals. As we shared earlier this month, it can all be a little confusing! Here are a few of the latest bills that’re in the running:
AB 217 (E. Garcia) (Safe & Affordable Drinking Water Fund)
- What does it do? Establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to help finance programs to fix contaminated wells and water systems around California.
- Who pays for it? Water customers through a “system charge” on public water systems, to be delivered by the public water system to the State Water Board starting in July 2020. The system charge is set at $.50 per connection, per month. Fees will also be paid by fertilizer manufacturers and distributors, milk processors and non-dairy CAFO owners.
- What does this mean? By establishing a system charge system, this bill aims to avoid the unpredictability of funding from a fluctuating general fund or budget surplus, and guarantees a certain level of funding into the future. There could be additional expenses incurred by the entities responsible for collecting the tax in the approximately 3,000 water systems around California.
SB 200 (Monning) (Safe & Affordable Drinking Water Fund)
- What does it do? Establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund in the State Treasury to help water systems provide an adequate and affordable supply of safe drinking water in both the near and the long term. The bill would provide that moneys in the fund are available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to the State Water Board to fund grants, loans, contracts, or services to assist eligible recipients.
- Who pays for it? SB 200 does not include a funding mechanism since it is meant to serve as the framework for the continuous appropriation created by the State Legislature’s Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Budget proposal (below).
- What does this mean? By establishing a framework for monies from the General Fund, this piece of legislation does not rely on a tax or fee structure.
State Legislature Budget Proposal
- What does it do? Funds the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund that is created by SB 200 (above).
- Who pays for it? $150 million annually comes from the General Fund as a continuous appropriation, which doesn’t require annual re-authorization by the Legislature and is a dedicated revenue stream.
- What does this mean? By providing funding from the General Fund as a continuous appropriation, the proposal reduces the risk of fluctuating annual state revenues and allows for longer term investments.
We’ll keep you posted on these and other bills as they proceed through the legislature, so stay tuned to see how California moves forward on solutions for safe drinking water for its residents.