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Opposition is growing across California to the proposed state water tax. Photo: Pixabay/Creative Commons State water tax opposition

State Water Tax Opposition Grows Across California

San Diego, Calif. – Civic and business leaders statewide are increasingly expressing opposition to the proposed state drinking water tax.

They call on the state’s leaders to find a better way to fund clean water than adding a tax, as proposed by state Senate Bill 623 and the Brown administration’s Budget Trailer Bill. A chief concern is that a precedent-setting tax today would lead to more taxes on water in the future.

Here’s a sampling of anti-tax perspectives from around the state.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Sacramento: “It is unconscionable that California, which has a record-high $130 billion General Fund budget with a $6 billion surplus, can’t provide clean drinking water to a million people using existing resources. Is this not the first role of government, providing a public good essential to life? The statewide tax would represent a diversion of local ratepayer dollars to an out-of-control state bureaucracy that has little accountability.”
John Coleman, past president, Association of California Water Agencies; board member, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Oakland: The process through which this tax has been proposed is also problematic. Proponents have been planning to insert this tax for months, but kept all details under wraps until the last few weeks of session … To impose a statewide tax on Californians’ water bills would turn local water agencies into taxation entities that send money to Sacramento

The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board: Californians are told lawmakers can’t commit themselves to devoting a tiny fraction of the state budget to honor the intent of the measure, so a new category of taxation must be created. Baloney. Yes, of course, the water problem must be addressed — but with honesty, not subterfuge.

Haney Hong, president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association: “Twenty percent of the funding for this correction for the water source, which is an important thing to do, comes from the polluters, and the rest, the 80 percent, comes from the rest of us in California. That’s not how this should work.”

Mark Muir, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors: “Make no mistake: This is a tax, and taxing Californians for something as essential as water does not make sense. It will increase the cost of water, making it less affordable. It also will place undo upward pressure on food prices. Call it a lose-lose for low-income residents – and everyone else.”

The Agoura Hills/Calabasas Acorn Editorial Board: “Water districts are caught in a squeeze between environmentalists who want the cleanest water possible released into the state’s waterways—a demand that comes at a high cost—and consumers who are tired of footing the bill … And all of this doesn’t even take into account the future cost of the twin tunnel megalith that will channel fresh water underneath the Sacramento Bay Delta for supposedly more efficient delivery to farms and urban areas in the South. What’s that going to cost? Customer costs are already too high.”

Assemblyman Philip Chen (Brea):Supporters of SB623 will argue that this legislation will help those who are poor, disadvantaged, and reside in rural areas. It does not … Adding a tax on drinking water will only make clean and safe water less affordable for all Californians. According to the California Tax Foundation, since the beginning of this year Sacramento lawmakers have introduced more than 90 bills that would cost taxpayers more than $370 billion annually in higher taxes and fees. Now these lawmakers want to add another tax but this time on your drinking water. Will there be anything that is not taxed in California?”

Seventy-three percent of Californians opposed the state water tax in a recent poll.





Prop. 68 Promises Billions For California Parks, Clean Water

For bicycle riders like Eric Johnson, the American River Parkway is an urban jewel in Sacramento County — and a place to be cherished. “It’s nice to be away from the cars,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to be in the nature scene. You know, it’s peaceful.” That’s why Johnson said he supports Proposition 68, a $4 billion bond measure that would allocate an extra $10 million to the American River Parkway.

Climate Change Is Making Droughts Worse In The Western US

A new study from NASA reinforces the idea that droughts are getting worse and could become more frequent in the Western U.S. The culprit is human-caused climate change. Droughts aren’t just about precipitation, said NASA scientist and the study’s co-author Benjamin Cook. They’re also about the timing of snowmelt and the wetness of soil, both of which are upended by a warming climate.

A Ban On Delta Tunnels Lawsuits Slips Into Federal Spending Plan

With the California Delta tunnels proposal facing an uncertain future, one of the state’s Republican congressmen has come up with a way to help the multibillion water project, known formally as California WaterFix, reach completion: ban environmental lawsuits. On Tuesday, veteran Rep. Ken Calvert of Riverside County released a 142-page draft spending bill for fiscal year 2019 for the Interior Department and related agencies.

OPINION: Tijuana Sewage Spills Finally Get The Attention They Deserve

Effluent from Tijuana’s broken sewage system coming ashore in the United States has become a routine part of life on San Diego County’s southern coast. It’s why parts of the Imperial Beach shoreline were closed more than five months a year in each of 2015, 2016 and 2017, and why dozens of Border Patrol agents have been sickened by exposure to the muck.

SDG&E And Firefighters Brace For A Rough Fire Season

Traditionally, fire season in Southern California ran from about the beginning of May through the end of November. But not anymore. Last year, for example, the Lilac Fire that swept through large parts of Bonsall, charring about 4,100 acres and destroying 157 structures, was sparked on the morning of Dec. 7. “It really is a year-round season,” said Cal Fire and County Fire Authority Chief Tony Mecham.

A Former Lawn Sets The Stage For A Wildflower Super Bloom In Woodland Hills

California’s super bloom hasn’t materialized the way it did last spring, but that hasn’t stopped Woodland Hills homeowners Ron Gales and Andrea Fields from enjoying a spectacular wildflower bloom of their own. Walking up to the house in springtime, it’s hard to believe the landscape was “an ugly lawn filled with weeds” when they purchased the home in 2009.

GRACE-FO Will Help Monitor Droughts

You may not notice water in the ground under your feet, but it plays an important role in keeping you alive. Plants draw water from soil into their roots and use it to grow. If there’s not enough, the resulting drought may have impacts that spread across local water supplies, regional agriculture and even international food prices. NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission was the first satellite system to directly measure global changes in the water stored underground in the world’s largest aquifers. GRACE Follow-On, scheduled to launch this month, will continue this important task.

The 318-foot-tall Olivenhain Dam in North County is a major component of the Water Authority’s Emergency and Carryover Storage Project. The dam added 24,000 acre-feet of water storage capacity. Golden Watchdog Award

Water Authority Project Named ‘Golden Watchdog Award’ Finalist

San Diego, Calif. – The San Diego County Taxpayers Association named the San Diego County Water Authority’s Emergency & Carryover Storage Project as a finalist for its prestigious “Regional Golden Watchdog Award” in the 23rd annual Golden Watchdog and Fleece Awards.

The “Goldens” recognize the best and worst in local government spending, decision-making, and efficiency. Winners will be announced at the sold-out #Goldens awards dinner on Thursday, May 17. The Taxpayers Association (@sdcta) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, dedicated to promoting accountable, cost-effective and efficient government.

“We’re very excited to recognize the good work done this year,” said Haney Hong, President and CEO of the Taxpayers Association. “The Golden Awards Dinner is a great time to acknowledge local government’s biggest achievements and also the flops from the past year. We appreciate all the elected officials and notable San Diegans who come from across the region to participate in this event.”

In 2016, the Water Authority and Poseidon Water received the Grand Golden Watchdog from the Taxpayers Association for the Carlsbad Desalination Project for “stretching taxpayer dollars through cooperation between the public and private sectors.”

This year, the Water Authority is up for an award for its Emergency & Carryover Storage Project. The Project is composed of a system of reservoirs, interconnected pipelines, and pumping stations designed to make water available to the San Diego region if imported water deliveries are interrupted. The project added 90,100 acre-feet of water storage capacity for emergency use, and more than 105,000 acre-feet of carryover storage capacity as a hedge against dry years.

The project won an Award of Merit in the 2016 Global Best Projects competition held by the industry publication Engineering News-Record. It was also named Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association, and it won the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 International Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award. For more about the project, click here.

The full list of finalists for the Golden Watchdog Award:

  • San Diego County Water Authority: Emergency and Carryover Storage Project
  • San Diego County Employees Retirement Association: Expense Reductions and Organizational Improvements
  • San Diego Community College District: Props S & N Bond Funds
  • San Dieguito Union High School District & Solana Beach School District: Collaboration During Construction