Jan 14, 2019

California Governor Proposes Drinking Water Tax

The proposed tax would aim to help disadvantaged communities obtain safe drinking water

California governor proposed new tax on drinking water
California governor proposed new tax on drinking water

California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a statewide water tax to help disadvantaged communities obtain safe and affordable drinking water. The proposed tax was released in the new governor’s 2019 to 2020 budget proposal and aims to fund the State Water Resources Control Board to assist disadvantaged communities that lack safe drinking water.

According to SF Gate, a 2018 investigation found that 6 million Californians rely on water providers that have violated state water standards in the past six years. The report points to the South San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert as problem areas. While the details of the proposed water tax are not yet revealed, previous state Gov. Jerry Brown pursued a similar water tax last year but the tax was never adopted as it failed to receive support in the legislature. The previously proposed tax would charge residents 95 cents a month, totaling $11.40 per year.

On Jan. 11, Newsom brought his Cabinet to Central Valley to meet with residents that currently lack clean drinking water, reported the Sacramento Bee. The governor and his Cabinet stopped at the Monterey Park Tract in Ceres to hold a roundtable discussion with residents impacted by two wells contaminated with nitrates and arsenic.

“It’s only day five or six of the administration but, look, the issue of safe drinking water, affordable drinking water, is top of mind,” Newsom said of the budget proposal. “I made that a point in yesterday’s budget. I made a point to emphasize that 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.”

The proposed water tax has met opposition from the Association of California Water Agencies, who represent more than 400 water suppliers across the state. The group argues that the administration has a budget surplus and should be tapping into those funds, rather than taxing residents. The budget proposal also allocates approximately $190 million for safe drinking water projects across the state.