The California water crisis has been a huge issue for families concerned over the amount and safety of the drinking water they are provided. About 500,000 people in California’s central valley don’t obtain a sufficient amount of water or only have access to a contaminated water supply. Approximately six million Californians get water from suppliers who have violated safety standards in past years. The recent droughts have also made water access more difficult. 300 water operations across the state have their water polluted by soil runoff and chemicals like uranium and arsenic. Poor communities don’t have the necessary equipment available on farms to clean groundwater.
A water tax has recently been proposed by governor Gavin Newsom who believes that California residents need to use a decreased amount of water in order to not waste it carelessly. A tax similar to this had been introduced in 2014 by the governor of that time Jerry Brown. He also thought that the only way to get Californians to use water more sustainably would be by placing a higher charge on it. Brown’s proposition ultimately failed to pass due to state budget matters but would have had Californians paying an extra $11.40 per year on average for their drinking water. The legislation had also faced opposition from the Association of California Water Agencies—which represents 400 water providers—for being unnecessary.
Like Brown, chief executive Gavin Newsom has also faced a lot of criticism due to his recent water tax bill proposal. California has not been welcoming to new taxes and Newsom’s bill is also encountering a lot of controversies. Newson stated that his water fund would “enable the State Water Resources Control Board to assist communities, particularly disadvantaged communities, in paying for the short-term and long-term costs of obtaining access to safe and affordable drinking water.” He wants to give poor people accessible safe and affordable water by spending about $25 million in cleanup efforts. Revenues from the statewide tax would be used for this attempt in order to mitigate water issues.
Many Republicans have opposed the bill and stated that public health services like safe drinking water should be accounted for by current state taxes. The Association of California Water Agencies has again backlashed legislative attempts for water tax with Executive Director Cindy Tuck saying, “ACWA believes that making access to safe drinking water for all Californians should be a top priority for the state. However, a statewide water tax is highly problematic and is not necessary when alternative funding solutions exist and the state has a huge budget surplus.”
On the other hand, farmers from San Francisco have shown support for the bill as they use 80% of the state’s water supply for agricultural purposes. The issue comes down to whether or not a person would be willing to pay a few additional dollars to sustain water use or if they believe that the California legislature needs to improve infrastructure and water purification based on the taxes they already acquire from the general public.