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Posted on: August 29, 2017

Safe Drinking Water Fee All Wet

Cucamonga Valley Water District’s customers never have to think twice about the safety or reliability of their drinking water supply. And we like it that way. It’s our mantra: safe and reliable drinking water. It’s in our mission statement; it’s listed in our values and our organizational goals.  But the same can’t be said for a number of low-income, rural communities throughout the state of California where there is no water, or the water is too contaminated to drink. This is unacceptable and astonishing given that we are one of the most highly regulated states in the nation and touted as the sixth largest economy in the world.

Safe and reliable drinking water is critical to human life and no one in a state as affluent as California should go without safe and clean drinking water. The manner in which to address the issue however is in question. As your state legislature comes back from their summer recess, there is an effort underway to impose a tax on all residential and business customers to address safe drinking water in communities far away from ours. Senate Bill 623 by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) would require water agencies, including the Cucamonga Valley Water District (CVWD), to charge a monthly fee to customers based on their meter size.    

These funds would be sent to Sacramento where they will be re-distributed to other communities. In essence, CVWD would become a tax collector for the State and would receive no benefit from the funds collected, which are estimated to be $600,000 - $700,000 annually (for CVWD). 

Granted, this is a public health and safety issue that needs to be addressed, but it should not be the responsibility of other water agencies that have properly planned and financed their water systems on behalf of their ratepayers. The state needs to look at other resources that are available to them, such as the state’s general fund, federal safe drinking water funds, and general obligation bond funds. These funding sources are already used to address social and public health issues, why not water as well? 

The Cucamonga Valley Water District opposes SB 623, or any fee imposed on water agencies that removes an agency’s ability to exert local control. We fully support working with all communities to find solutions to the challenge of a lack of safe drinking water. However, imposing a tax on all water users and then using the funds elsewhere in the state is not the solution that Californians need. This tax works against keeping water affordable for all Californians. Please join us in opposing this well-intended but poorly executed piece of legislation!

Luis Cetina

Vice President, Cucamonga Valley Water District

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