California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget recently included a drinking water tax that would cost Santa Clarita homeowners 95 cents per month to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water sources.
Santa Clarita residents paying the tax would see their water bill increase by $11.40 per year if the proposal is approved. Santa Clarita Valley Water serves 273,000 customers in the area, meaning Santa Clarita would contribute approximately $3.1 million to the drinking water fund every year.
The fee is part of Newsom’s “safe and affordable drinking water fund” designed to raise about $110 million per year.
As many as 360,000 Californians, most in the southern San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert, rely on water that does not meet state safety standards, according to a McClatchy investigation in 2018.
The governor’s plan is an attempt to revive the idea behind a bill turned down in the Legislature in 2018 that aimed to clean up groundwater for low-income areas at high risk for toxic contamination.
The former bill, SB 623, was an identical proposal to what Newsom put forward in his budget, but died after protests from parts of the agricultural community and the Association of California Water Agencies.
The association represents more than 400 water districts, including SCV Water.
The budget proposal would also earmark $4.9 million from the state’s general fund for a one-time payment to the State Water Board and the Department of Food and Agriculture to implement the new program. That money would go towards setting up the fee collection system, developing a map of high-risk drinking water aquifers and adopting an annual plan to use the tax money.
Additional funding for the program would come from new dairy and fertilizer fees for producers and retailers.
A statewide tax like the one Newsom proposed requires a two-thirds vote in the Legislature. The high bar is where its senate bill precursor stumbled.
State Senator Scott Wilk, who represents Santa Clarita as part of the 21st district, spoke out against the bill when it was first introduced in the senate in 2018.
Wilk called the bill “well-intentioned,” but said it would increase the already high tax burden for most California residents.
“Water is our most precious natural resource and it is imperative we make it available and affordable for everyone,” said Wilk. “This bill may be well-intentioned to accomplish that goal, but its methods are flawed.”Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking KHTS Santa Clarita News Alerts delivered right to your inbox. Report a typo or error, email Corrections@hometownstation.com
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