California Dolphin: statewide California news

Proposed state tax on tap water meets opposition

(KGTV) - A group of San Diego lawmakers, water agencies and business leaders are joining forces in opposition of a possible new state tax on tap water.

Under the proposed State Senate Bill 623, Californians would see an additional 95 cents per month on their water bills. SB623 is one of two articles of legislation being discussed by state lawmakers that could see residents’ water bills go up by more than $15 per month.

The goal of the tax would be to clean polluted groundwater around the state, particularly agricultural areas where water is considered undrinkable.

State Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) , who authored the bill, said SB623 "will establish the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to provide an ongoing source of funding to finance water improvement projects throughout California. Approximately 300 water systems in California currently have pollutant violations, such as arsenic, lead, nitrates, and uranium that have been linked to nausea and vomiting, cancer, reduced mental functioning in children, nervous system decline, miscarriages, and numerous other health issues.

Support of the Fund will come from a fertilizer mill fee, a fee on dairies, and a fee assessed on water bills of no more than $1 a month per household, and is anticipated to generate $140 million a year. Low-income rate exemptions are provided for households under 200% of the federal poverty level."

Numerous agricultural groups and environmental organizations have come out in support of SB623, but many, including the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and other local groups, have said the bill is “counterproductive because it will make it harder for low-income residents to afford this necessity. A precedent-setting tax also could lead to additional taxes on water for a variety of project and programs.”

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