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Water Service Shut-Off Bill Opposed by Water Authority

A coalition of organizations, including the San Diego County Water Authority, is opposing proposed state legislation that would change existing water service shut-off procedures used by public water agencies when customers become significantly delinquent on water bill payments.

Senate Bill 998 by Senator Bill Dodd (Napa) would replace current shut-off processes, which are tailored by local water districts to meet the needs of their agency customers. Despite the absence of state data showing current policies create a significant problem in California, the bill would impose a new “one-size-fits-all” statewide program.

The bill, should it become law, would prevent service shut-offs for at least 60 days for delinquent customers; create a cap on reconnection fees that may or may not cover the associated costs; trigger Proposition 218 concerns for public water agencies; and expand authority of the State Water Resources Control Board and the Attorney General to enforce provisions of the bill.

SB 998 would effectively force agencies to subsidize the cost of providing service to delinquent customers. Agencies could be compelled to decrease their level of service to customers who have been paying in a timely manner by diverting resources to non-paying customers because the bill does not provide sufficient additional revenue to cover related costs.

While SB 998 is intended to assist residents with financial hardship, the bill fails to account for other disadvantaged customers, including seniors and the disabled, whose rates could increase as a result.

Another impact of SB 998 would be diverting resources from local health departments to preventing water service shut-offs, instead of the many critical services they currently provide to children, seniors and others. Despite its intent, SB 998 would harm ratepayers’ rights to safe and affordable drinking water – a violation of the “human right to water” adopted by the state.

The Water Authority’s Board of Directors is on record opposing SB 998 and its cost-shifting policies, as is the Association of California Water Agencies.


OPINION: Sacramento’s New Way To Tax The Water You Drink

Another new tax is headed for your water bill, as if it wasn’t high enough already. Gov. Jerry Brown has been trying to push through a statewide tax on drinking water, the first ever in California history, and as you might imagine, it has been a challenge for him. People are fed up with new taxes. That was demonstrated very convincingly in the June recall of state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton.

Tax On California Water Revived To Clean Up Drinking Water – But It’s Voluntary

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers are rebooting an effort to pass a new tax to attack unsafe drinking water in California.

But there’s a twist: The proposed tax on water bills would be voluntary, increasing its chances of success among skittish lawmakers in an election year.

After calling off a plan in June to apply a mandatory tax on water bills, the governor is backing a new pair of bills that would apply a voluntary levy on ratepayers to fund safe drinking water projects. Senate Bill 844 and 845, introduced by Sen. Bill Monning, would also raise taxes on dairies and fertilizer manufacturers.

‘Toilet To Tap’ Water Nearly Matches Bottled H20 In Taste Test, University Researchers Discover

Saddled with the “toilet to tap” label, recycled water still has a bit of an image problem. But in a blind taste test, UC Riverside researchers found that people prefer its flavor over tap water and that they like it as much as bottled water. Intuitively, that may sound crazy. But it makes sense, suggests UCR’s Daniel Harmon, lead author on a recent study analyzing the taste test published recently in the journal Appetite. “Bottled water and recycled water go through more or less identical purification processes,” Harmon said. Both, experts said, are subjected to reverse osmosis, which removes most contaminants.

Desalination Plant in Santa Barbara Now Supplying 30% of City’s Needs; Hosting Public Tours

Some ocean water on Santa Barbara County’s coastline is soon going to undergo a transformation. Roughly three million gallons of salt water is turned into drinking water a day at the City of Santa Barbara’s Charles E. Meyer Desalination plant.

The plant, which is just a few blocks from the ocean between West Beach and Highway 101, has been up and running for more than a year. Now for the first time, the media has been invited to tour the facility, and this weekend the public can see it.

Climate Change Is Helping Crank Up The Temperatures of California’s Heat Waves

California suffered through its hottest July on record, while August has pushed sea-surface temperatures off the San Diego coast to all-time highs.

Are these punishing summer heat waves the consequences of global warming or the result of familiar weather patterns?